Category: Press

Business Leaders, Community Members Discuss Living with Water in Hampton Roads

WTKR – August 22, 2017 by Brendan Ponton

NORFOLK, Va. – Members of the business community, as well as local and state leaders discussed living with water in Hampton Roads during a forum on Tuesday morning.

“It’s time to act. The challenges are real. Coastal flooding is real,” said Del. Chris Stolle, a Republican from Virginia Beach. Part of that includes addressing sea level rise, aging infrastructure, and land shifting downward, he said. Stolle hopes addressing those issues will actually help the economy through innovation and adaptation. “Coastal flooding is a threat, but it’s also a really good opportunity.”

Participants discussed how coastal flooding impacts public services, local governments, and adapting to the water. “Instead of always fighting storm water, maybe learn how to use it to our benefit,” said Mike Fox, a local landscape architect.

 

Virginia Beach City Council to hear veterans care center presentation

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) — City council members will hear more about a proposed veterans care center Tuesday.

The 141,000-square-foot building is one of two new facilities that the Virginia Department of Veterans Services plans to build in the commonwealth. The other facility will be in Northern Virginia. Similar care centers already are open in Richmond and Fauquier County.

The Hampton Roads Veterans Care Center will feature 120 beds in private rooms and will sit on 26 acres located in the Princess Anne Commons Biomedical Corridor. The property is across West Neck Road from the municipal center.

The care center will have to ability to provide residents with a “home-like” atmosphere, skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation.

It will be divided into twelve 10-bed “homes” and employ approximately 150 people.

Frank Drew, who is a Vietnam veteran, told 13News Now it doesn’t bother him that the facility will be built right by his house. He’s just happy veterans are getting more help.

“Don’t care about the traffic. Don’t care about the noise. I don’t care that it’s on my property line. Let them build it. They can build it all the way down and all the way across. I’d love to see it,” he said.

He also hopes it will help alleviate long wait times at the Hampton VA Medical Center.

“To get a doctor’s appointment, it sometimes took 3 to 6 months. I just heard some nightmares– sitting over there waiting for care for people that are in far, far worse shape than I was ever in,” he said.

In a statement the Hampton VA said the following about the care center:

“For several years Hampton Roads has experienced one of fastest growing veteran populations in the nation. It is exciting to see the expansion of Veteran services in the Hampton Roads area. The approval of the State Veteran Care Center is a major step in assuring that long-term care and special needs of our Veterans are met in years to come.”

City council will vote on March 7 whether to transfer the 26 acres of land from Virginia Beach to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

A public information session will be held on March 13 at Kellam High School from 5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m.

If things stay on track, a groundbreaking is planned for October with an opening to come in late 2019 after an extension to Nimmo Parkway is complete.

Legislation to create Virginia coastal office gaining ground

Legislation that would create a new Cabinet-level position for coastal flooding and adaptation to better coordinate Virginia’s response to sea-level rise is making some headway during the General Assembly session.

The House version, by Del. Christopher P. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, was reported out of the Committee on General Laws to the Appropriations Committee last week.

The companion Senate version, by Sen. Lynwood W. Lewis Jr., D-Accomack, was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The bills would create the secretary of coastal protection and flooding adaptation, an office designed to “be the lead in providing direction, ensuring accountability, and developing a statewide coastal flooding adaptation strategy,” as well as being responsible for identifying sources of funding for coastal protection projects, the legislation says.

“I think that (Hurricane) Matthew was a wake-up for a lot of us. A lot of the damage was done in areas that were not in flood zones,” Stolle said.

“We are at risk. We need a statewide approach to address this issue.”

As of Jan. 10, the National Flood Insurance Program had paid out $46.8 million to 2,263 claimants in Virginia as a result of the October hurricane, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

A study released in November by the College of William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center warned that sea-level rise driven by climate change eventually could cost the Hampton Roads region more than $100 million extra in damage and costs annually if no measures are taken to mitigate the risks of coastal flooding.

The office is estimated to cost the state $478,117 a year, including a $158,966 salary for the secretary, a $117,000 salary for a deputy secretary, and a $40,800 salary for an administrative assistant as well as $47,102 a year in expenses related to telecommunications, rent, supplies and other operating costs.

Lewis acknowledged the bill might be a “heavy lift” in a tight budget year but called it a necessary approach that other states facing coastal threats, including Louisiana and New Jersey, have adopted.

“We need a one-stop shop,” Lewis said.

Creating a Cabinet-level position is about more than just coordinating state-level response, said Col. Paul Olsen, former Norfolk district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and now director of federal, commonwealth and municipal programs and partnerships at Old Dominion University, home to the Center for Sea Level Rise.

“It’s all about federal funding,” Olsen said, noting that states with just one office to interact with the federal government often are more successful than states that spread coastal concerns over various departments.

“They’re getting more than their fair share. We’re getting less. We’re trying to correct that,” Olsen said.

Hampton Roads pushes for cabinet position to address flooding

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – Cities on Virginia’s coast want the state to create a new cabinet position to address flooding issues.

The Virginian-Pilot reports Republican Del. Chris Stolle plans to introduce legislation to establish a state resiliency officer. He or she would coordinate efforts to curb the impact of flooding. Currently, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran handles such issues.

In October, Hurricane Matthew caused $500 million in damage to Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach. More than 5,000 residents have applied for $8.6 million in federal aid.

Stolle’s legislation would be considered during a tight budget year. The state has to find a way to close a $1.26 billion gap.

Virginia Beach, Norfolk want the state to create a new position to deal with flooding

The Virginian Pilot – Mechelle Hankerson

Virginia Beach and Norfolk leaders are pushing the state government to address flooding issues by creating a new Cabinet position.

Del. Chris Stolle plans to introduce legislation to establish a state resiliency officer, whose duties would include coordinating resources and efforts to curb the impact of flooding across Virginia. Currently, Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran handles flooding issues.
“I’m optimistic it will be passed, but it will be an uphill battle,” Stolle said.

The 2017 General Assembly session begins Jan. 11, three months after Hurricane Matthew soaked Hampton Roads. The storm didn’t make direct landfall, but it caused $500 million in damage. More than 5,000 residents – over half of them in Virginia Beach – have applied for $8.6 million in federal aid.

It’s not surprising to Hampton Roads residents that flooding has become a more urgent problem, Stolle said.

“For the rest of the population, it was a bit of a wake-up call,” he said of the storm’s timing.

Stolle’s legislation, which hasn’t been filed, will be considered during a tight budget year. The state has to find a way to close a $1.26 billion gap. Gov. Terry McAuliffe has suggested cutting funding to colleges and requiring other state departments to slash spending by 7.5 percent.

Del. Rob Bloxom, who represents parts of Norfolk, Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore, said he doesn’t think this will be the year the state creates a resiliency officer position.

Money is too tight and there are too many other priorities, such as raises for law enforcement and other public employees, he said.

The idea for a resiliency officer came from the state’s Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding, which was created in 2014. Stolle chairs the subcommittee, which includes Hampton Roads Sens. Frank Wagner and Mamie Locke as well as elected officials from the Northern Neck.

A resiliency officer would coordinate efforts to study flooding causes and mitigation and give the state an edge in receiving grants or federal money.

“You’ve got a lot of different people doing a lot of different things,” Bloxom said. “When you’re looking at federal money, a little bit of coordination would be beneficial.”

Emily Steinhilber column: Virginia’s leadership in flood resilience

Richmond Times Dispatch – December 26, 2016

This fall, Hurricane Matthew offered Virginians the latest reminder of the ongoing importance of flood resilience.

Even with federal support, including $120 million awarded to Virginia in the National Disaster Resilience Competition, strong local and state leadership remains the key to keeping Virginia’s citizens safe and businesses operating in the face of flooding.

The Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency represents the most recent example of the value of teamwork in responding to a critical threat.

With the leadership of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Del. Chris Stolle, chairman of the General Assembly’s Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding, and strong bipartisan support, the center was established in July.

It represents a partnership between Old Dominion University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center.

The center’s role is to provide technical and scientific support for flooding resiliency planning to localities, agencies and citizens across Virginia.

This work will increase the strength and vibrancy of our communities as they adapt to living with water.

Since ODU, VIMS and William & Mary are all in the natural flood-prone test-bed of Hampton Roads, no new facilities were needed.

In its first year, the center has hit the ground running on shorter-term projects and is laying the groundwork for longer-term initiatives to put tools, information and resources in the hands of a variety of public and private stakeholders.

Because the center exists independently of political subdivisions, the data, tools and lessons learned by one entity can easily be shared with others.

The Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency leverages the strengths of faculty researchers from the three institutions, who often work together. These are just a few examples:

  • Law students from William & Mary and researchers from Old Dominion are working with the tourism industry to assess policies and strategies to improve resilience in that vital sector.
  • Recognizing that this phenomenon goes beyond Hampton Roads, Old Dominion faculty will also identify flood hazards and vulnerabilities in parts of western Virginia that are subject to flash flooding.
  • VIMS has compiled state-of-the-art street-level storm-surge and water-level modeling data. This will be coupled with ODU’s stakeholder and communications expertise to develop risk communication and alert strategies, which will be used in concert with apps like Waze and Google Maps for extreme events like Hurricane Matthew as well as everyday occurrences of nuisance flooding.
  • VIMS faculty are coordinating with many partners, including Old Dominion, to develop comprehensive web tools for localities and citizens.

The center also is partnering with NASA to support research that will provide Hampton Roads localities with the first comprehensive localized data since the 1970s on subsidence, or the sinking of land, which is the other major contributor to recurrent flooding in the region. These spatial high-resolution estimates, based on satellite data, will pinpoint areas as small as 20 meters. They will allow decision-makers to fill critical gaps in knowledge and better inform planning.

The center builds on Old Dominion’s efforts, under President John R. Broderick’s initiative, to focus on flooding and sea level rise since 2010. Its creation provides a strong foundation for our proposal, supported by U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, to create the National Center for Sea Level Rise, the first center of its kind in the country.

Meanwhile, we are committed to partnering with our leaders in Richmond and local partners throughout the commonwealth to build flood resilience and establish Virginia as a leader in the field.

Emily E. Steinhilber is an assistant research professor at Old Dominion University and coordinates the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency.

New Veterans Care Center planned for Virginia Beach will be the first of its kind in Hampton Roads

The Virginian Pilot – Mary Beth Gahan

In 2014, Del. Chris Stolle presented a plan to council members to bring a long-term nursing care center for veterans to Virginia Beach. All they had to do, he said, was support it by providing land.

The council voted a few months later to set aside up to 25 acres for the project.

It was an important step in the process of bringing the facility to Hampton Roads, Stolle said Friday. It certainly wasn’t the last one.

Two years to the day after he pitched the idea to the council, Stolle stood by as Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the city’s selection as a site for a Veterans Care Center, which will be built near the Municipal Center and Kellam High School.

“Our veterans have taken care of us,” Stolle said. “It’s time for us to take care of them.” The facility, which is expected to open in late 2019, will be the first of its kind in Hampton Roads, where 213,000 veterans live. Hampton had also been in the running, but in the end, state leaders chose Virginia Beach. In June, McAuliffe announced a 120-bed care center in northern Virginia’s Fauquier County.

In 2014, Del. Chris Stolle presented a plan to council members to bring a long-term nursing care center for veterans to Virginia Beach. All they had to do, he said, was support it by providing land.

The council voted a few months later to set aside up to 25 acres for the project.

It was an important step in the process of bringing the facility to Hampton Roads, Stolle said Friday. It certainly wasn’t the last one.

Two years to the day after he pitched the idea to the council, Stolle stood by as Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the city’s selection as a site for a Veterans Care Center, which will be built near the Municipal Center and Kellam High School.

“Our veterans have taken care of us,” Stolle said. “It’s time for us to take care of them.” The facility, which is expected to open in late 2019, will be the first of its kind in Hampton Roads, where 213,000 veterans live. Hampton had also been in the running, but in the end, state leaders chose Virginia Beach. In June, McAuliffe announced a 120-bed care center in northern Virginia’s Fauquier County.

In 2014, Del. Chris Stolle presented a plan to council members to bring a long-term nursing care center for veterans to Virginia Beach. All they had to do, he said, was support it by providing land.

The council voted a few months later to set aside up to 25 acres for the project.

It was an important step in the process of bringing the facility to Hampton Roads, Stolle said Friday. It certainly wasn’t the last one.

Two years to the day after he pitched the idea to the council, Stolle stood by as Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the city’s selection as a site for a Veterans Care Center, which will be built near the Municipal Center and Kellam High School.

“Our veterans have taken care of us,” Stolle said. “It’s time for us to take care of them.” The facility, which is expected to open in late 2019, will be the first of its kind in Hampton Roads, where 213,000 veterans live. Hampton had also been in the running, but in the end, state leaders chose Virginia Beach. In June, McAuliffe announced a 120-bed care center in northern Virginia’s Fauquier County.

The one in Virginia Beach at Nimmo Parkway and West Neck Road will be similar and will specialize in the care of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other chronic illnesses. The center will also have long-term nursing care and short-term rehabilitation services.

The details of how the facility would be built have changed over the years. One reason it took so long to come to fruition, Stolle said, was the need for federal dollars.

The Hampton Roads project has been on a grant-funding list through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more than 10 years. Each year, the facility failed to move up the list of priorities.

“We waited and we waited and we waited,” McAuliffe said.

By 2015, Stolle and other General Assembly members, including Del. Ron Villanueva, sponsored legislation that would pay for the Hampton Roads and northern Virginia facilities using only state money.

“We said, ‘This is imperative for our veterans.’ ” Stolle said. “We cannot wait any longer.”

During this year’s session, the General Assembly funded both projects for a total of $96 million. It was time for Virginia Beach to hand over the land it promised.

The city-owned land was initially earmarked for a replacement elementary school, Economic Development Director Warren Harris said. But “great cooperation between the city and school administration” allowed the parcel to be offered as the spot for the care center.

“It’s an ideal location for the facility,” Harris said.

The city will find another location for the school, Harris said.

The site plays into the city’s biomedical initiative, which includes a 155-acre business park in Princess Anne Commons to lure health care and pharmaceutical companies.

The care center will be built on a 25-acre portion of the 40-acre site. The rest will remain wetlands. Construction is expected to begin in late 2017.

Once finished, it will feature 120 private rooms grouped in clusters around a central community center, said Steven Combs, deputy commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

“It isn’t the long hallway we’re used to,” Combs said. “It’s residential-centered.”

Gov. McAuliffe announces new Veterans Care Center in Virginia Beach

WTKR

Gov. McAuliffe announces new Veterans Care Center in Hampton R…

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announces that Virginia Beach will soon be home to the first Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads.Details: http://via.wtkr.com/kVcpS

Posted by WTKR News 3 on Friday, August 26, 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and other area leaders on Friday to announce that Virginia Beach will soon be home to the first Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads.

The new veterans care center will be a state-of-the-art facility providing skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, as well as short-term rehabilitative care. The center will serve the Hampton Roads region, home to more than 200,000 veterans.

The new 120-bed facility will provide affordable, long-term nursing care for honorably discharged veterans; Virginia residents at the time of admission or entry to Armed Forces; and people who meet the medical requirements for level of care if the facility provides the level of care that is needed.

“This is terrific news for our veterans, the heroes who have given everything to serve the United States and to guarantee our freedoms,” said Delegate Chris Stolle, a U.S. Navy veteran who helped make the center a reality. “We are now set to build a place in Virginia Beach where veterans can receive the help they need – the help they deserve.”

The center will be located on 24-acres along the bio-medical corridor in the Princess Anne area. The location will also allow veterans to have convenient access to labs, physical therapy and other healthcare facilities in the corridor.

“I am pleased to announce that the center will be built on land donated by the City of Virginia Beach, at no cost to the state,” McAuliffe said. “The new Veterans Care Center will be a state-of-the-art facility providing skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/dementia care and short-term rehabilitative care. The Hampton Roads region is home to more than 200,000 veterans, the largest concentration in the commonwealth, and we owe it to them and their families to build this new facility.”

The new Hampton Roads Veterans Care Center and another being built in Northern Virginia will result in about 600 new jobs in those areas.

McAuliffe signs legislation establishing military medics, corpsmen pilot program

Augusta Free Press – June 28, 2016

Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed the Military Medics and Corpsmen bill, establishing the Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen (MMAC) Pilot Program in the Commonwealth. Modeled after the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Intermediate Care Technician Program, SB 437 established Virginia’s MMAC Program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, creating pathways to employment to Virginia’s health care fields for highly skilled medical veterans.

“Expanding benefits and employment opportunities for our veterans in Virginia has been a top priority of my administration since day one, and the Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen pilot program underscores Virginia’s unwavering commitment to our service members,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This program ensures the advanced medical training our men and women received in uniform is harnessed in successful post-service career tracks in Virginia’s health care industry. Whether we are functionally ending veteran homelessness, expanding post-service medical treatment, or creating new career pathways, Virginia will continue to be on the forefront of veteran services for those who bravely served our country.”

The MMAC Program in Virginia is modeled after the highly successful Veterans Health Administration Intermediate Care Technician Pilot Program, which operated in 15 Federal Veterans Affairs Medical Centers across the United States. With the MMAC Program, Virginia is the first state in the nation to offer this kind of innovative pathway to employment for these highly skilled veterans.

“As a former Army doctor, I worked alongside military medics while treating soldiers injured during Desert Storm,” said Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. “Our medics and corpsmen have extensive training and valuable experience, and this important piece of legislation recognizes their service, helps them transition into our civilian health systems, and has the potential for hundreds of veterans to gain employment in healthcare jobs throughout Virginia.”

House bill patron, Delegate Christopher Stolle added, “As a retired Naval Officer and physician, I can personally attest to the relevant, real-world experience military medics and corpsmen hold from their extensive military education and training while on active duty.  Military medics and corpsmen are outstanding candidates to help fill many gaps in Virginia’s healthcare workforce.”

“The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) has been developing this initiative with input from the following five health systems: Sentara, Inova Health System, Carilion, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Bon Secours. We extend our thanks to these vital partners who will help develop this program,” said John L. Newby, Commissioner of VDVS.

“Veterans trained as military medics and corpsmen should be recognized for the extensive skills they bring to the table,”noted Senate bill patron Senator George Barker.

Sentara Heart Hospital hosted the bill signing. Howard P. Kern, President and CEO of Sentara Healthcare, added, “Recognizing how important this is for veterans, and the Commonwealth’s need for more health care professionals, Sentara has supported establishing this pilot program. We also have provided input to the Department of Veterans Services as it has been developing the details.”

The MMAC Program will be accepting applications from qualified service men and women by the fall of 2016. To learn more visit www.dvs.virginia.gov or call the MMAC Program Manager at 804-786-0571.

Christopher Stolle – Doing more for Virginia’s Veterans

The Virginian Pilot – Editorial, Delegate Chris Stolle

ON MONDAY, we took time to reflect and honor our heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our freedoms. We honor not only those who lost their lives while defending our country, but the loved ones they left behind.

While Memorial Day is a special day to honor the memory of those we have lost, let’s also remember those who have fought and may still be fighting battles here at home.

As a member of the General Assembly and the Virginia Board of Veterans Services, I believe that we have an obligation to support our returning and retiring soldiers, sailors, airmen and their families. To me, supporting our troops means providing veterans the help they need when they most need it.

 Washington continues to deal with gridlock. This was evidenced last week when 15 U.S. senators signed a letter urging the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to take action on 18 stalled veterans research and outpatient clinics.

In contrast, on the state level, we have made great strides in the past few years to address key areas geared toward improving veterans’ quality of life. As we remember those who served and died, I would like to honor those who returned by highlighting some of the commonwealth’s services available to support Virginia’s veterans and their families.

Many of our veterans and their family members are seeking workforce development skills or a college degree. Spouses of active-duty military members now receive in-state tuition while living here and Virginia colleges and universities now waive the one-year residency requirement for transitioning veterans who want to make Virginia their permanent home.

Whether you are a younger service member choosing not to re-enlist or retiring after a successful career, we know you’ve developed great skills during your time in the military and we want you to use those skills here in Hampton Roads.

In 2012, we developed the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) program, whose mission is to educate and train employers on the value of hiring Virginia’s veterans, and to help employers connect with veterans.

More than 16,000 veterans have been hired through the V3 program, and we have just launched a new V3 Employment Grant program to incentivize employers to hire more. Additionally, this year I was proud to carry first-in-the-nation legislation that establishes a program to allow military medical personnel, who have transitioned to the civilian world, to keep using the skills they acquired in the military.

The Virginia Military Medics and Corpsmen (MMAC) program will create a much-needed bridge to health care careers for our veterans. Virginia will also be the first state to partner with the DoD for transition assistance for separating service members to help them get the required civilian health care certifications.

The single greatest show of gratitude to our veterans is to support their mental and physical well-being. Virginia has housed more than 1,900 veterans since October 2014, becoming the first state to functionally end veterans’ homelessness.

But, we can do more to support the health care needs of our disabled or aging veterans. Oklahoma has half as many veterans as Virginia and three times as many veterans’ care centers.

State leaders have worked on a two-year effort to bring a veterans’ care center to Hampton Roads. We have waited for years for the federal government to fund its portion, 65 percent of construction, but the federal money never came.

We decided that Virginia’s veterans could wait no longer. The state fully funded two new care centers, one in Hampton Roads and one in Northern Virginia. I thank the city of Virginia Beach for its donation of the land and its commitment to have a facility located on the Southside that can be easily accessed by veterans and family in Hampton Roads.

Most importantly, our veterans should never feel abandoned. If you or someone you know is a veteran who needs help of any kind, DVS has partnered with Virginia 211 to provide a 24/7 hotline service. Dial 211 from a land or mobile phone for immediate assistance. On the go or overseas? The DVS mobile app is now available for both Apple and Android phones.

Virginia’s General Assembly remains committed to working with the governor, localities and employers to make Virginia the most veteran-friendly state in the nation.