Safety first in the NRV

sheriff's-office-front
Christiansburg, Va — The Hub: The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office serves Montgomery County, the Town of Christiansburg and Blacksburg, and the Virginia Tech Campus. Photo:  Mongomery County VA website
Montgomery County hoping to keep the New River Valley community safe.
By Denashia Dunnaville      October 7, 2019

Montgomery County implementing policies to keep the New River Valley community safe. If residents find themselves in dangerous situations, there is a new way to contact 9-1-1 emergency services. Also, the sheriff’s department has safe places for individuals to conduct exchanges.

The New River Valley Emergency Communication Authority (NRV911) recently implemented Text-to-911 technology. It allows individuals to report emergencies, who are in dangerous situations and cannot safely call 9-1-1. The new service also benefits those who are deaf, hearing impaired, or have a speech impediment.

Calling 9-1-1 may still be the best way to report an emergency, but the texting service allows a new form of communication with the police department. If you plan on using the service, be sure to provide your exact location and a brief, concise description of your emergency.

The new program may prove to be beneficial to the New River Valley especially since the area is experiencing a crime increase. According to the Virginia State Police 2018 Crime Publication, crime is down in the state of Virginia. However, violent crimes increased in the New River Valley. Violent crimes went up by 10.5 percent from 2017.

While the crime rate did increase in the New River Valley, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department is hoping to decrease some crime with “safe exchange zones”.

“Safe exchange zones” are meant to keep people safe when meeting buyers and sellers from online websites like Facebook or Craigslist. These safe exchange zones are meant to prevent theft, fraud, or the more extreme dangers that could be possible when meeting a stranger. The dangers that come with online transactions are all too common. In 2015, one Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville student was found dead after attempting to sell his car on Craigslist.

The zones are lit up and monitored by cameras 24 hours a day. This allows online transactions to occur at any time of the day and can ensure both parties meet in a place that prevents potentially vulnerable situations. The exchange zones are also used for child custody drop-offs. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department is considering introducing more ‘safe exchange zones’ because it is already proving to be beneficial in Christiansburg.

As for now, there is work being done to ensure residents in the New River Valley live in a safe area. Hopefully, the New River Valley will see a decrease in crime, with the new texting service and the exchange zones, by the time the 2019 Virginia State Police Crime Publication is released.

The “Pros”perous Over Acceptance of Freshmen

BLACKSBURG, Va. – 2010 – Students walking across the Drillfield. Photo: Virginia Tech

The advantages of over enrollment at Virginia Tech

by Steffen Bohn – September 15, 2019

Since the end of the 2019 Spring Semester, Virginia Tech and the community has been made aware about the incoming class of Freshmen.  What originally was intended to be 7000 acceptances for the fall semester was instead met with 8000 eager acceptances according to NPR.

To accommodate for this, a lot of Freshmen have now found housing options off campus of Virginia Tech according to the Roanoke Times.  This is different from the previous requirement that all first year students spend a year in the dorms. In turn, students who would usually depend on dining services almost exclusively will have to take a more local approach for food and other supplies. 

This could help the sales of many local businesses with with the influx of incoming students, which could then lead to the addition of more jobs in the town of Blacksburg and surrounding areas.

Virginia Tech has already been approving several areas to take on new hires to help with the incoming class.  According to Virginia Business, the university has approved the hire of 40 instructors and advisors while Student Affairs is hiring 21 additional people.  The Dining Services on campus that feeds a lot of the students and faculty have also been approved to take on more hires as well by the university.

However it does not stop there, the town of Blacksburg itself is starting to help the job market.  Blacksburg Town Manager Marc Verniel has said that the local transportation service, Blacksburg Transit, also has its eyes set on hiring more drivers.  While it could be argued that the town may not have enough money to hire more drivers, it has been reported by Verniel that “it’s not a budgetary concern.”

With this in mind, it does not appear that the incoming Freshman class is as daunting as one would initially anticipate.  While accepting over 1,000 extra students may seem like a bit much, it has already influenced the university and the surrounding areas.  With even more students living off campus, it will most likely increase the sales of local businesses. The anticipation of this has even already produced more job opportunities to bring in talent from out of town, but also bolstering the job market for those in the New River Valley.

The unconventional college experience

 

Getting down to business- College students are getting busy with assignments at a local coffee shop, rather than fighting the crowds at the on-campus study spots. Photo on Foter.com

by Missy Powell–

College is an often difficult time for young adults. It is a time to develop oneself and determine what ones likes and dislikes are. It is a time to make mistakes and to grow from them. Most worry that when they get to college, they’ll be stuck pursuing a career that they don’t like or end up not making any friends. The truth is, no one will have the exact same college experience as anyone else. No two people will go through the exact same things, and that is perfectly normal. I learned this one lesson the hard way.

I applied to attend college straight out of high school like most everyone else I knew. I was proud to be going to a four-year university unlike anyone else in my family. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 66.7 percent of high school graduates go on to a college or university, and I was one of the 66.7 percent. I was excited to finally be growing up and having the freedom to be an adult. As this journey was beginning, I was surely not in for the bumpy ride that was ahead of me.

I’ve attended three different institutions for my undergraduate career and the constant change made my anxiety levels become higher than ever. Upon arriving at Virginia Tech, I thought things would finally work in my favor. I really thought that this was the place I was always destined to be, as I’ve wanted to attend this wonderful place since I was six-years-old. Sadly, I was mistaken once again. A simple miscommunication turned into having the entire floor of my dorm know my name. I’d constantly hear whispers of lies and to know that people genuinely thought those things about me brought me to my lowest point. Those lingering words in my head telling me I should just kill myself turned into a plan. I never slept or ate, I never went to class, and I socialized with no one. The plan never turned into action, but I was given an ultimatum—seek help or leave school.

Since these events, I’ve learned that trying to follow a plan that society had set forth for me just was not going to work out. I believe there is a reason that I followed the path I did, and it’s never been something that I’d consider a regret. I have overcome the gripping anxiety and depression that has controlled every step I’ve taken for so long. In a short 42 days, I will graduate and become the first person in my family with a Bachelor’s degree, and I hope that these words serve to inspire just one person.

Life lessons from the saddle

by Sara Gordon–

Littlestown, Pa., June 28, 2018 – Warming Up: A rider competing in the hunter division warms up for her over-fences class at the Swan Lake Horse Show. Photo: Sara Gordon

When I was four years old, I was hoisted up onto the back of an elderly Arabian horse and instructed to “grab mane and hold on tight.” Seventeen years later, I never stopped holding on as I continue to enjoy being an equestrian and surrounding myself with what I love most: horses.

My experience riding horses has not only improved my skills as an equestrian but also who I am as a person. When you spend the majority of your life interacting with thousand-pound animals with minds of their own, you tend to learn a thing or two, whether you’re in the saddle or out of it.

1. There’s no shame in falling down.
I vividly remember a riding lesson where my horse threw me off, into a jump, nearly four times in a row. It hurt more each time to stand back up, put my foot in the stirrup and get back on, but I did it. If you decide to walk away after falling off, there’s a high chance you’ll never get back in the saddle again. You owe it to yourself to stand up, dust yourself off and keep trying. Your resiliency and strength will only excel from there.

2. Awareness of yourself will benefit your relationship with others.
Riding isn’t just a hobby or a sport. It requires the formation of a bond between horse and rider, establishing a relationship that relies on mutual respect and reassurance. A horse has the unique ability to sense the emotional state of their rider, which can personally impact the way the horse behaves. When I get nervous, my horse feeds off of that and tenses up. Yet when I ride with confidence, our ability as a pair feels unstoppable. If you respect and believe in yourself, along with those around you, success is guaranteed.

3. The work put into something is more important than what you get out of it.
When it comes to horse shows, the blue ribbon (first place) is seemingly the most coveted prize one can earn. However, after experiencing issues with my horse refusing to jump for a few years, the goal of winning a ribbon became the lowest priority. Instead, I found more pride in the hard work I put in and how my horse improved from that commitment, which helped us get over our rough patch and only made us stronger. Winning is wonderful and it makes you feel good, but the effort you put in to get to that point is something that will always trump the physical award.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can ever do is get back into the saddle.

Top Five Pizza Joints in Blacksburg

by Emily Ball–

Photo on Foter.com

 

Of course, pizza is something that usually everyone can agree on, but wouldn’t it be nice to know where some of the best pizza places are in the area? Well, I have you covered. Here are my top five picks for the best pizza joints in Blacksburg, Va.

  1. Avellino’s1440 S. Main St. STE 110 Blacksburg, VA 24060

Avellino’s restaurant overall is rather good. They have a nice variety of food ranging from pastas, to pizza, to burgers to seafood. The food can tend to be pricey, but you are paying for quality food. The pizza is particularly good and they have a good amount of choices.  My personal favorite pizza there the ‘White Pizza’ which has ricotta and mozzarella cheese only.

  1. Mellow Mushroom207 S Main St, Blacksburg, VA 24060

Although Mellow Mushroom is a ‘chain’ restaurant, it definitely makes the cut for best pizza joints. They have a wide variety of pizza choices along with other aspects like calzones or sandwiches. Price wise, they are rather decent. They have many pizzas recipes to choose, and all are pretty great.

  1. PK’s Bar and Grill432 N Main St B, Blacksburg, VA 24060

PK’s is definitely is one of my most recommended, which is why it falls in the top three. They have so many great elements when you go in-person and delivery is usually quick. Their pizza is amazing there, especially the buffalo chicken pizza. It’s something I get every time I go.  Along with their great pizza, they have awesome deals. There is a day where you can flip a coin for a free pizza, if you call it right.

  1. The Beast of Blacksburg860 University City Blvd # 107, Blacksburg, VA 24060

The Beast is the type of place that does not disappoint. Hands down, one of the quickest deliveries that will get you your pizza there and tasting like it just came out of the oven. It is one of the more expensive places, but as mentioned, you won’t be disappointed with their pizza. Their white sauce pizzas are to die for. Every pizza I have had is simply delicious.

  1. Benny Marzano’s110 Draper Rd NW, Blacksburg, VA 24060

Benny’s pizza is my most favorite college town pizza. Not only is the pizza great and the slices huge, it’s also very affordable. It is around $5 for a slice alone. I do know that buying a whole pizza is rather expensive, however, is a great way to split with a group of friends. Benny’s pizza is very popular among Virginia Tech students, especially on late nights. They are open most nights until 3 a.m. for students to swing by for pizza or for delivery.

Top 10 Albums of 2018

by Josh Gann–

Photo Credits: Kevork Djansezian via vox.com/Getty Images

With the 2019 Grammys on Sunday, Feb. 10, it’s a good time to reflect on the 2018 year in music. Nowadays, the Grammys tend to be part popularity contest and part recognition of true creative genius. This blog post takes a slightly different approach, as I review the 10 albums I enjoyed the most in 2018.

10. Black Panther Soundtrack ~ Various Artists

The soundtrack to the Best Picture nominee, Black Panther, wasn’t used for the movie itself but made for a highly enjoyable, 14-track playlist. Produced by Kendrick Lamar, this album features Lamar himself, SZA, Travis Scott, and several other Hip-Hop stars.

9. Lauren Daigle ~ Look Up Child

Lauren Daigle put out her best work yet with her fifth studio album. This combination of spiritual empowering songs and upbeat, dance-themed songs, like the album-title song “Look Up Child” make this a great listen.

8. The Paper Kites ~ On The Corner Where You Live

The Paper Kites also released On The Train Ride Home, but the follow-up project, On The Corner Where You Live, is the superior album in my opinion. This quiet, alternative rock project offers some jazz undertones that make this album consistent, but with a little flare.

7. Anderson .Paak ~ Oxnard

The follow-up the critically-acclaimed Malibu, allowed .Paak to really shine. There were some songs that, honestly, got slightly annoying. But, the majority of this albums slaps together incredibly rhythmic baselines and powerful percussion in this rap/funk/jazz project that left me coming back for more.

6. Pusha T ~ DAYTONA

The Norfolk-product, Pusha T delivered in the Kanye-produced album, DAYTONA. Pusha T has never rapped about much more than being a former drug-dealer, and that’s the case here. Yet, his lyricism and flow are unmatched as he owns every track.

5. Kacey Musgraves ~ Golden Hour

I had never thoroughly listened to Musgraves before this album, but Golden Hour is an amazing listen. This country/folk project can almost sound pop-ish at times with extremely catchy tracks like “Lonely Weekend” or “Love Is a Wild Thing”.

4. J Cole ~ KOD

The follow-up to a slightly underwhelming 4 Your Eyez Only, KOD is a gripping album that speaks on the drug-culture within Hip-Hop and beyond. Cole speaks on his friends, and mother, who have dealt with substance abuse that makes great dialogue.

3. The 1975 ~ A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

This album is a bit of a change in direction for The 1975, but it completely delivers. The album offers epic, guitar-driven ballads, as well dance-inspired hits like “Give Yourself a Try” that make this a versatile listen, throughout.

2. Saba ~ Care For Me

For those that don’t know, the Chicago-native rapper, Saba, has an absolute gem in Care For Me. The album allows Saba to process through the loss of his cousin. While very emotional, the album is also a musical masterpiece with beat switches and authentic instrumentation.

1. Mac Miller ~ Swimming

Swimming is, tragically, Mac Miller’s best work. The late rapper opens the album with “Come Back to Earth”, a soothing track as he begs to “get out of his own head”. The album continues to tell of Miller’s demons, but also his triumphs over melodious and smooth instrumentation.

Top 5 Halloween movies this spooky season

 

Silhouette of Man in Front of Tv
Photo via Foter.com

by Monica Becerra–

October is here & the Halloween movie marathons are back! It’s time to snuggle up with friends & have nightmares all night. To make sure you’re catching the best movies this Halloween season, check out the must-watch list below!

5. Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

This go-to “scary” movie for kids has been essential to Halloween movie marathons since 1993. This cartoon classic fulfills the spookiness of Halloween while still remaining not too scary for children. This movie shows how much of an essential it is with being featured not one, not twice, but eight times in this year’s Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween. No matter how old the movie is, it fills the nostalgic void of a classic Halloween children’s movie

4. “Scream”

Scream is another classic Halloween movie. It features A-list actresses like Drew Barrymore and fulfills not only the horror vibes but the mysterious feeling as well. Not only did this movie spark into three more sequels, but there has also been a comedic parody franchise come from it, “Scary Movie.” Watch this movie and be prepared to question all of your friends when it’s over.

3. “The Addams Family”

If you’re looking for horror and comedy, this is the movie. Not only is this a family movie, but it also has someone of the most iconic theme songs & characters. Wednesday Addams has become a staple for Halloween costumes & rightfully so. Be prepared to get in the Halloween spirit & come out wishing you were a part of this spooky family.

2. “Halloweentown” Series

These Disney classics fill the perfect nostalgic void for all 90’s babies. From seeing Marnie’s transition from not knowing she was a witch to watching her grow through three movies, this movie provides all the feels. These movies are essential during your Halloween movie marathon. They have the perfect amount of spookiness, drama, family issues and romance all bottled up into one. This is the perfect movie for when you’ve had enough of everyone not agreeing on what movie to watch.

1.”Halloween” Franchise

It’s not a true Halloween movie list without one true horror film like “Halloween.” “Halloween” is a classic as it is one of the most well known Halloween & horror movies in general. The Michael Myers character is one of the scariest characters to appear in movies & has become a very popular costume as well. The movie also features famous actress Jamie Lee Curtis. This year especially is a good time to binge watch all of the “Halloween movies” a remake of the sequel hits theatres on Oct. 19, 2018. If you’re not one for true horror, you might want to grab some friends to watch this one with you.

The old Tiger Woods is never coming back

tigerwoods_screenshot
ATLANTA, Ga., Sept. 24 – Tiger is back – Eldrick Tiger Woods fought his way to his first victory since 2013. A 5-year gap that included multiple back surgeries. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

 

by Zack Perhach–

Here is my prediction for Tiger Woods’ next season: there will be a time, maybe within the first week or so, where Tiger will hit a 5-iron. The ball will jump high into the air, the crowd will begin yelling. Eldrick Tiger Woods, eyes still locked on the ball, will begin marching. Walking with confidence toward the hole, following his shot. He’ll pull the club down to his waist, all the while still marching forward.

In that moment, it will all feel real for Tiger Woods fans. Their one true question will be answered: is Tiger back? For those fans, it will feel like he’s back. Each and every one of them will believe again in that moment.

But the reality is, Tiger isn’t back. At least not the same Tiger, but that might be a good thing.

The Tiger Woods of old was a new breed of golfer. He was athletic, hit the ball far, and he drove his game down his opponents’ throats. He thrived in scenarios with somebody chasing him.

That was the Tiger who held the World Golf Rankings #1spot; a spot he held for 683 weeks. That is not a typo. Tiger was the world’s best golfer for almost 13 years until he wasn’t.

Today’s Tiger returned to golf ranked 1,199th in the world. He worked hard, and through the grind made his way to the 13th spot in just one season. He even recorded his first win since 2013.

The Tiger that won the 2018 Tour Championship was not the same Tiger who won all those other tournaments in years past. When he sunk the final putt to win, he didn’t pump his fist, he didn’t throw his ball in the air, he didn’t do any of that. Instead, he paused, took a deep breath, and hid his face as he tried to hold back tears.

Eldrick Tiger Woods’ game is changing. He’s older, slower, and less flexible. Despite that, he still owes the sport more. His last exit wasn’t the one a king deserves. Old Tiger is not back, but the new Tiger is here, playing the game for the game’s sake.

“Red Sparrow”: Disturbing, disorganized and disappointing

Blog post image
San Diego, C.a., July 9, 2015 – Comic Con: Jennifer Lawrence stars as Dominika Egorova in “Red Sparrow.” Source: Wikimedia Commons.

by Cody Davis—

In the wake of the Mueller investigation and the #MeToo movement, a film about Russian intelligence operatives using their seduction skills to extract information from American targets had the potential to be an iconic production. However, the film adaptation of Jason Matthews’ novel of the same name produces too many creepy, cringe-worthy scenes to achieve such acclaim.

“Red Sparrow” follows ballerina Dominika Egorova (played by Jennifer Lawrence) after being forced into Russia intelligence’s “Sparrow” program, a group of operatives who manipulate their targets through seduction. Acting as a Sparrow in order to protect her mother, she quickly finds herself in the middle of an intelligence war between the United States and Russia, with little chance of surviving the operation. Egorova must choose her loyalties in order to save her mother’s life, if it’s not already too late.

In a botched attempt to recreate an acclaimed novel into an acclaimed film, Francis Lawrence and his team deliver an unnecessarily lengthy movie filled with over-the-top violence and sex. What could have been a huge influence in the #MeToo movement, the film’s reliance on such graphic, disturbing scenes leaves audiences little reason to believe “Red Sparrow” has a positive impact in the national discussion around sexual assault. In fact, it’s safe to say that “Red Sparrow” completely missed the mark on this subject.

The film’s intriguing storyline and impressive cinematography are overshadowed by its ambiguous introduction and controversial content. While the sexual and violent themes are no doubt central pieces to the story, these themes more or less dictate the entire movie, conveying the writing team’s apparent laziness. Opting to dial back on the sex and violence in favor of richer dialogue would have made for a much better movie-going experience.

Jennifer Lawrence is the film’s saving grace, delivering an excellent performance that carries the entire picture. Her accent, demeanor, appearance and mannerisms give an authentic interpretation of Matthews’ character, and prove she has matured from her cardboard-acting days of the “Hunger Games” franchise.

Anthony Lane of The New Yorker examines the production perfectly, calling its delivery “world-class clunkiness” and bringing attention to the director’s misuse of an excellent cast. It is disappointing to see a film with great potential turn out to be such a huge disappointment.

Don’t Shut Up, Dribble: Speak up, Speak Out

Akron, Oh., Jan.14 – Cari Champion Interviews James and Durant: This interview spawned controversy when a Fox News Host challenged the validity of the NBA players opinions about the political climate in the United States. Video by Uninterrupted.

by Josh Henry–

Following the 2016 Presidential election, a cloud has hung over the United States. Despite social media rising to new heights, people are scared to air their political opinions more than ever. That said, prominent figures in non-political positions are trying to give people some confidence when it comes to airing grievances or agreements with the way things are going.

Two of those figures are LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those men are two of the NBA’s brightest stars and took part in a new vodcast with ESPN host Cari Champion on January 14th. Both men spoke not only about experiences in their own lives, but also about what it is like living under the Trump administration.

One day after the vodcast was released earlier in February, Fox News host Laura Ingraham did a segment on her show responding to the players commentary. She criticized many things about both men and specifically ended her commentary telling them and other outspoken athletes to just “shut up and dribble.”

The backlash to Ingraham’s comments was swift from all angles around the country. She took time to make pointed, and possibly racist, comments regarding the two men. But the ending statement is what bothers me the most.

We are guaranteed certain freedoms by our forefathers which we hold dear. One of those freedoms is the freedom of speech. It is very rarely limited, and without it many of the foundations of our nation would crumble.

The Sedition Act was struck down in the late 18th century because it limited our speech. It is dangerous to silence a nation from speaking out against their leaders. If we can’t speak out, we are controlled and therefore no longer free.

So how in the world can anyone be forced to be silent just because of their profession? As a reporter for the News Feed, should I not be entitled to my opinion? Should everyday people who vote in our leaders but work as bankers, teachers, plumbers, etc.… not be allowed to speak up when they feel their leaders are doing the wrong thing?

To expect silence and obedience from people just because they don’t happen to have a political science degree, or more likely the case with Ingraham: don’t agree with your side, isn’t a sign of democracy. It is a sign that she would rather have an oligarchy or dictator rule with no one opposing.

No, athletes will not shut up and dribble, or stick to sports, and they shouldn’t. After all, before he was President, Donald Trump was a reality TV show host and businessman. I guess he didn’t stick to that.