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ODU in the News

Week of 10/7/13

Photos | ODU Big Blue statue unveiled on campus
(Photos, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 4, 2013)

The new ODU Big Blue statue is unveiled Friday at the Norfolk campus. The statue of Big Blue was unveiled in the Webb Center on Friday morning, Oct. 4, 2013, in Norfolk. (More)

Report: Coal's regional impact is $900M, 4,200 jobs
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 6, 2013)

It's no secret that coal has taken its lumps in the national debate about climate change and efforts to lower carbon emissions.
As the nation's largest coal exporting port, however, Hampton Roads has more riding on that conversation than some may have realized.
A new Old Dominion University analysis of the regional economic impact of local coal exports - part of ODU's annual "State of the Region" report released last week - shows how much.
Including indirect effects, Hampton Roads coal shipments in 2011 generated more than $900 million in goods and services and nearly 4,200 jobs, according to the ODU study.
The local loading facilities - Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Lamberts Point terminal, Kinder Morgan's Pier IX and Dominion Terminal Associates' complexes in Newport News - handled nearly 800 coal ships that year.
"Each of these vessels required an extensive range of auxiliary services that were provided by coal forwarders and agents, testing labs, samplers, surveyors, tug services and harbor pilots," the study states.
The ODU economists didn't include two other significant coal-related facilities in the region: Dominion Virginia Power's coal-fired plants in Chesapeake and Yorktown. The utility, blaming tougher environmental regulations, has said it plans to close those units by 2015. (More)

Port winning cargo battle, State of Region report says
(Inside Business, Oct. 4, 2013)

The Port of Virginia's increasing share of cargo moving through the area's terminals via rail will result in more jobs and higher incomes, according to the annual State of the Region report from Old Dominion University.
Cargo that will go to customers within a 250-mile distance is typically carried by trucks, the report explains.
Beyond that distance, the Savannah, Charleston, Baltimore and New York/New Jersey ports compete for cargo that is carried by train.
The percentage of cargo moved by rail through the Port of Virginia increased to 33.1 percent in fiscal year 2013, up from 27.9 percent in fiscal year 2011, the report says.
"This means that the Port of Virginia is winning competitive battles over which ports along the East Coast will handle discretionary cargo," the report says.
"August was the first time we've handled more than 40,000 containers in a month," Rodney Oliver, the port's interim executive director, said on the Port of Virginia's blog. "We expect continued heavy rail volume for the foreseeable future and are making several operational changes to accommodate the growth."
Beyond that, the report recounts how 2012 was a "year of change and dramatic uncertainty for the Port of Virginia."
"Falling market shares and tonnage between 2008 and 2011 were among the reasons cited by Gov. Bob McDonnell when he sacked all but one member of the board of the Virginia Port Authority," the report says. (More)

State of Region report: Focus on schools
(Inside Business, Oct. 4, 2013)

Spend money, but do it in a smarter way.
That's the message to city officials in this year's annual State of the Region report from James Koch, Old Dominion University's board of visitors professor of economics and president emeritus.
Koch addressed Hampton Roads city, civic and business leaders Tuesday morning at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott. He also met with Inside Business to discuss the report he has produced for the past 14 years.
It would be more productive for the Hampton Roads cities to collectively give tax incentives to firms that offer apprenticeship programs, rather than spend millions separately on public/private developments, the report says. The net economic impacts of building arenas, conference centers and performance venues are not only questionable, the report says, but self-canceling when multiple cities do the same thing.
Koch points to the new hotel and convention center planned for Main Street in Norfolk. The city has earmarked $19.7 million for the $126 million, 300-room hotel, 50,000-square-foot conference center and 600-space parking garage.
But while Norfolk plans to add hotel rooms to the region, the revenue per available room has been on the decline every year for the past five years in all Hampton Roads cities, except for Virginia Beach, according to the report.
"Achieving profitability could be elusive if the new hotel sells rooms for $40 more per night than those already available at nearby hotels such as the Marriott and Sheraton," the report says, though city officials say the upscale conferences will attract tech-savvy, luxury-oriented clientele willing to pay more. (More)

Big Blue statue unveiled at ODU
(WTKR-TV, Oct. 4, 2013)

At a packed celebration at the Webb Center on Friday morning, ODU unveiled a 7-foot-tall bronze statue of their mascot, Big Blue.
The idea for the statue came from members of ODU's Student Government Association after seeing a similar statue at another school.
The statue was made by Virginia Beach sculptor Richard Stravitz.
Throughout their journey, ODU students are encouraged to revisit the statue and rub Blue's belly so as to bring wealth, good luck and prosperity. Four years later, students will again take their picture with Big Blue as part of their graduation celebration. (More)

Big Blue mascot meets his likeness
(WAVY-TV, Oct. 4, 2013)

Old Dominion University's Big Blue mascot has been immortalized in bronze.
Hundreds of ODU Monarchs were on hand when a 7-foot-tall statue of Big Blue was unveiled in the Webb Center on the Norfolk campus Friday.
ODU's Student Government leaders were apparently inspired after seeing a similar statue at Ohio State. They hired Virginia Beach sculptor Richard Stravitz to create the bronze likeness. Stravitz says it took him months to complete the work.
The statue is going to become part of a new tradition. When students enter ODU they will take their picture with Big Blue to mark the beginning of their Monarch journey. They'll get their picture taken again as part of the graduation celebration.
The Big Blue mascot represents the Monarch symbol of a lion wearing a royal crown.
In 2011, Big Blue was selected as the Capital One Mascot of the Year, after receiving nearly 2 million votes in the online competition. (More)

Big Blue now has his own statue
(ODUBleedBlue, Oct. 4, 2013)

ODU's mascot Big Blue has now gone next level. He has his own seven foot bronze statue. Today he was essentially immortalized.
The ceremony took place in a packed out Webb Center where the "bronzed" Big Blue will remain as he looks out onto Kaufman Mall.
The idea is to start a new tradition according to the release of the event that took place earlier today.
Now that the bronze Big Blue stands sentry over Webb Center, looking out on Kaufman Mall, SGA leaders announced that tradition: as students start their career at ODU, each student will take their picture with Big Blue to mark the beginning of their Monarch journey.
Throughout their journey, ODU students are encouraged to revisit the statue and rub Blue's belly so as to bring wealth, good luck and prosperity. Four years later, students will again take their picture with Big Blue as part of their graduation celebration.
Pretty cool idea. (More)

Stuff of fiction: "Sandtrina" would ruin Hampton Roads
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 7, 2013)

It's been a slow hurricane season so far this year in the Atlantic Ocean. But lest anyone start to rest easy, a pair of researchers at Old Dominion University have painted a richly detailed depiction of how a major hurricane would hit vulnerable populations in Hampton Roads.
They call their fictional storm "Sandtrina." And it's not a pretty picture.
Joshua Behr and Rafael Diaz, professors at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, have created a computer model that takes Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 superstorm that hammered the Northeast, and turns its path straight toward Hampton Roads.
The effect, they conclude, would be similar to that of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans, a city that bears a close resemblance to Hampton Roads in terms of topography, demographics and economics.
The computer-generated image of the resulting 13-foot storm surge - the abnormal swelling of tidal waters produced by such a powerful storm - shows vast swaths of Hampton Roads underwater.
The researchers blended that simulation with a huge stream of data from a yearslong survey that helped them map the region's most vulnerable residents, using measures such as age, finances, medical fragility, mobility and social networks.
The bottom line, Behr said: "The worst-case scenario is going to catch us with our pants down."
One phase of the research looked at how the region's health care infrastructure would be affected by a worst-case storm. The resulting map shows dozens of medical facilities - hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices and the like - underwater. That's a sobering possibility in an area where nearly 30 percent of the population has at least one chronic health condition.
The ODU survey, which reached more than 7,000 people from the Northern Neck to the Outer Banks, was designed to tease out how residents perceive risk and how they would be likely to respond to a major storm - whether they would evacuate the area or hunker down in place. (More)

South African grandmothers attack the AIDS plague
(The Virginian Pilot/FindLaw, Oct. 7, 2013)

Felicia Mfamana and Thelma Nkone are grandmothers. In an ideal world, they'd have reached a time in their lives when they could sit back and take it easy.
But that is not their world. They are from South Africa, where the AIDS pandemic has decimated a generation. The country has a 10 percent HIV infection rate, the highest in the world. Many older South Africans have buried children felled by the disease.
The result is a generation of orphans -- their children's children, more than 1 million of them -- to be cared for. That job has fallen to the grandmothers.
An Old Dominion University professor and her students have formed close ties with some of these resilient women, two of whom are visiting the campus this week to tell their story. ...
Jennifer Fish, chairwoman of ODU's women's studies department, has taken a group of 60 students to the grandmothers' township every year since 2008 as part of a "service learning" study-abroad course. The students have provided support to GAPA in a variety of ways, including fundraising.
"Students go there and they feel quite transformed," Fish said. "It's a much richer education than they get sitting in a classroom."
The grandmothers always look forward to the students' visits, said Vivienne Budaza, GAPA's executive director. It's not about dollars, she added. It's about knowing that someone on the other side of the world cares. (More)

Photographs document Mandela over the years
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 7, 2013)

A collection of photographs of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first democratically elected president, is on display at Old Dominion University this week.
The two-stop tour of South African photographer Eric Miller's pictures marks the first time they have been shown publicly in the United States. They were shown in Washington, D.C., last week.
Miller photographed Mandela over nearly 20 years, from his release from prison in 1990 through his presidency and into his retirement. The pictures show the anti-apartheid revolutionary in a variety of settings, including encounters with celebrities and world leaders.
The exhibit is being shown in conjunction with a visit to ODU by members of Grandmothers Against Poverty and AIDS, an organization of women in the Cape Town area whose life stories have also been chronicled by Miller. It's at Borjo Coffeehouse on Monarch Way. (More)

"Why bacon? Why now?" ODU philosophy prof asks
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 4, 2013)

A $3,000 bacon coffin for those who "love bacon to death." Bacon-flavored envelopes. Kevin Bacon bacon.
The inaugural Smithfield Virginia Bacon Festival this Saturday in Norfolk promises to go whole hog.
And for those who overdo, or have overdone, with a certain part of a pig, there's a curtained "bacon-fessional" booth where sinners can confess bacon-related transgressions.
There's no denying that these days bacon is sizzling.
The burgeoning bacon mania that has spawned bacon ties, bacon tea, bacon cozies, cookbooks, costumes and festivals has one Old Dominion University professor wondering: Why bacon? Why now?
"I've had enough," says D.E. Wittkower, an assistant professor of philosophy. "There's obviously something going on here, and I'm not just going to ignore it anymore."
Wittkower's probing has yielded a few hypotheses about the bacon phenomenon. Would you believe it's caused by the rise of social media? How about the downturn in the economy or health care reform or the nature of bacon itself?
Hold on to your swine-scented hat, if you're lucky enough to have one.
"We assume that all of these are involved in some way," says Wittkower, whose co-author on the study is Jason T. Eastman, a sociology professor at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. (More)

Researchers track migratory birds in the region
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 7, 2013)

Dawn was still lurking below the horizon when Andrew Arnold and Ben Hodgkins parked by the Great Dismal Swamp.
They carried binoculars, although it was dark, and clipboards, although they couldn't really see them.
Arnold held up a thermometer - 72 degrees - and an instrument to measure the wind speed - 0. Hodgkins peered closely at his clipboard and wrote down the numbers.
They wore bug spray and wading boots, and they entered the swamp intending to test data from NASA and National Weather Service radar that had given them an interesting forecast:
Cloudy, with a chance of birds. ...
The bird migration study is a collaboration between seven organizations, said Eric Walters, an assistant professor of biological sciences at ODU.
"It's not common that we have that many partners independently funding a project and working together like this," he said. "We're just trying to understand how these birds are using this habitat and what they're doing out there."
The two-year study sends the ground teams into the field to count birds, bugs and berries. Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve in Portsmouth was the last stop of the morning. (More)

ODU Literary Festival | Words in Motion
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 6, 2013)

If you've never gotten to listen to - and meet - some of the region's high-profile writers, here's your chance. Bonus: You can catch some other internationally known writers, too.
Head to ODU's annual literary festival; it starts Monday.
First, the visitors. They include science journalist Charles Mann, the President's Lecture Series speaker (7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Ted Constant Convocation Center). Among his books: "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" and "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created."
Other visitors: English essayist and novelist Geoff Dyer; D.T. Max, author of the David Foster Wallace biography "Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story" - appearing with another renowned literary biographer, Blake Bailey of Portsmouth; and Madison Smartt Bell, whose "All Souls' Rising" was a National Book Award finalist. He's now visiting writer in residence at ODU.
More highlights: Photojournalist Eric Miller, who works extensively in South Africa, and journalist Jo-Anne Smetherham. Poet Ross Gay; poet, memoirist and essayist Michael Klein; poet David Mills; poet, memoirist, novelist, critic and performer David Mura; short story writer Lysley Tenorio; and novelist Kimberly Brock. (More)

Federal shutdown takes center stage at debate
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 3, 2013)

The shutdown of the federal government found its way into a state campaign Wednesday night, when the candidates for lieutenant governor argued over which would be more likely to resort to such a tactic in Richmond.
In a debate at Old Dominion University, Republican E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister, and Democrat Ralph Northam, a Norfolk state senator each said in answer to a question that they oppose such tactics. But Northam suggested that Jackson was being insincere.
"I do not support shutdowns and the holding up of budgets," Jackson said. "I think that we've got to figure out a way to work together for the good of the people who sent us into office."
Northam retorted: "Mr. Jackson, I think our actions sometimes speak louder than our words."
Casting his opponent as a purveyor of "rigid ideology," Northam noted that two years ago at a Tea Party rally in Washington, Jackson was videotaped cheering in support of threats to shut down the government as a deficit-reduction tactic. In the video, Jackson can be seen chanting with the crowd: "Cut it or shut it."
"I would say be careful what you ask for," Northam said, noting the economic impact an extended federal shutdown would have on Virginia, a state heavily dependent on federal spending. (More)

E.W. Jackson backs away from 'Cut it or Shut it' chant in face of government shutdown
(The Washington Post, Oct. 3, 2013)

E.W. Jackson, a Tea Party favorite running for the No. 2 two job in Virginia's state government, was feeling a bit of government-shutdown heat Wednesday night at a lieutenant governor's debate in Norfolk.
With thousands of Virginians forced from their federal jobs this week, Jackson sought to put some distance between himself and his ideological allies in Washington, who have been insisting on changes to Obamacare before passing a government-funding bill.
When Jackson told a crowd gathered at Old Dominion University that he opposes shutdowns, his Democratic challenger, Ralph Northam, pointed to an enthusiastic public appearance by Jackson at a Tea Party rally in 2011, when he was gearing up for a U.S. Senate bid.
"Just two years ago, at a rally in Washington, D.C., Mr. Jackson, you were yelling out to either, 'Cut it or shut it.' I think I would say, be careful what we ask for, because they have shut our government down and there are thousands of Virginians right now who are out of work," Northam said. "The rigid ideology we're seeing from the Tea Party is not doing this Commonwealth or this country any good."
Jackson responded with a quote from a great American poet. (More)

Jackson, Northam highlight differences at second debate
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, Oct. 3, 2013)

In a second showdown at Old Dominion University in Norfolk on Wednesday, the two candidates running for lieutenant governor again underscored their ideological differences.
But with less than six weeks until Election Day, E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate, made an attempt to moderate himself, reaching across the aisle to Democrats -- the same party who he had previously called the "anti-God Party."
"What the lieutenant governor should be focused on is not attack(ing) people with different visions and values, but work(ing) on those issues where we have common ground," Jackson said. "I am going to reach out to Democrats -- let's find a way to work together. Focusing on divisive issues is not the way to get things done."
State Sen. Ralph Northam of Norfolk, for whom the debate was a home game, did not leave Jackson's attempt to paint himself as a bipartisan candidate unanswered.
"Your words have not suggested that you want to work with people," Northam said. "We don't need people to talk about others' sexual orientation or makings statements that we are anti-God." (More)

Jackson, Northam again show stark contrast
(The Daily Press, Oct. 3, 2013)

Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, repeatedly made the case for bipartisanship Wednesday night at a debate at Old Dominion University.
His Democratic opponent, State Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, repeatedly reminded the audience of Jackson's past statements - some of them recent - that suggest a more partisan approach.
In this way, the debate hosted by the ODU Student Government Association and the Virginia Bar Association, was a snapshot of the campaign. For months Northam and the state's Democratic Party have highlighted controversial Jackson comments, some of them made from the pulpit and while he was a private citizen, and Jackson has said he's been unfairly portrayed and can be a unifying figure despite those comments.
Early on in the hourlong event, the candidates were asked about the state's tort system and in particular its $2.1 million cap on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, said the system was largely working, providing predictability to would-be doctors thinking about starting practices in Virginia.
"I think it's just important to recognize we agree," Jackson responded. "There's so much we can work on together. That's why I'm so committed to making sure Ralph Northam remains in the Senate." (More)

Lt. governor candidates square off at ODU
(WVEC-TV, Oct. 2, 2013)

It was a packed house Wednesday night at ODU as voters in Hampton Roads got their only chance to see the candidates for lieutenant governor squared off.
Republican E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister, and State Senator Ralph Northam (D-6th D) debated the issues.
Northam said his opponent's rigid ideology would further hurt the image of the Commonwealth.
"We will stop the social agenda that rolled into Virginia two years ago," he said, "That has literally been an embarrassment to the Commonwealth of Virginia and put us on the late night TV shows."
Jackson countered criticism directed his way saying he'd reach out to those who do not agree with him and focus on bigger issues.
"I think what a lt. governor needs to focus on is not attacking people who do not agree with you on family issues or traditional values but figure out how to work together on jobs and the economy," he said.
As for the economy, both men agreed the region's transportation issues are a roadblock to economic development, but they disagreed on how best to deal with the problem.
Jackson pushed back on tolls.
"Tolls are not something we should just cast aside as out of the question." he said, "I think we need to look at each individual situation." (More)

Competing against ourselves
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 3, 2013)

"It could have been (much) worse." So declares the opening of The State of the Region report from Old Dominion University's Regional Studies Institute.
The opening refers to the effects that sequestration and stagnant federal spending have had on our region. It is sobering, to say the least.
But it is the last part of the report, available at www.odu.edu/forecasting/state-region-reports, that interested me the most.
This section -"OK, Now What Should We Do?" - offers advice for the decision-makers in the region. Tucked into some very specific proposals was one about "frittering away public funds on projects that subsidize private businesses."
I particularly liked this gem: "Don't ignore the displacement effect."
Every economic development director in the region needs to read that one. ...
The cities in our region have invested taxpayer money in projects that, essentially, compete against each other for the same dollars. (More)

Report: Region's economy slows, but it could be worse
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 2, 2013)

Cuts in defense spending will end up costing Hampton Roads about 4,000 jobs in 2013, according to the State of the Region report, which was released this morning.
The regional economy was expected to add 5,200 jobs this year, but only 1,200 will be created, according to the report from Old Dominion University.
James Koch, professor of economics and president emeritus at ODU, is the report's lead author and was scheduled to discuss the highlights at a Norfolk breakfast meeting today of the group Lead Hampton Roads.
Between 2008 and 2010, Hampton Roads lost 40,000 jobs. Fewer than 10,000 had been recovered by the end of 2012. The region has lagged behind Virginia and the United States in terms of job recovery.
The region could have fared worse, though. The port of Hampton Roads and the local real estate market offer glimmers of hope, according to the report.
Economists originally estimated automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, would cost the region 17,000 jobs. But Congress softened the blow in the months that followed.
Still, as the biggest driver of the local economy, defense spending is largely to blame for the region's lackluster year, according to the report. Direct federal spending (in Hampton Roads) for defense dropped for the first time since at least 2000 - to $21.1 billion from nearly $22 billion in 2012. (More)

State of Region: Need more education, fewer buildings for Hampton Roads economy
(The Daily Press, Oct. 2, 2013)

Hampton Roads must re-prioritize spending to diversify the economy and reduce the region's reliance on federal spending, the 14th annual "State of the Region" report released Tuesday concludes.
"We're a lot more vulnerable than we've been at any time in the last 10 years," economist James V. Koch, past president of Old Dominion University, told more than 700 attendees of a Lead Hampton Roads breakfast in Norfolk.
Tuesday's federal government shutdown was another reminder that the region's economy is tied to a federal budget that can "change at the whim of Congress," said Gary Wagner, ODU economist who contributed to the report.
The shutdown directly affects the region's furloughed government employees, who won't be spending their paychecks here, Wagner said. Even so, the impact won't be felt widely throughout the region unless the shutdown lasts longer than a month, he added.
Sequestration, or across-the-board federal spending cuts, already cost the region nearly 4,000 jobs over the past fiscal year, Wagner continued. Even so, restored funding and projects mitigated the original estimated loss of 17,000 jobs in the region.
"I think we dodged more than a bullet," Wagner told the audience. "I think we dodged something like a hand grenade."
That's because a quarter of every dollar spent in Hampton Roads is either directly or indirectly related to Department of Defense spending, Wagner said. The private sector has been adding jobs, but not fast enough, as the local economy is still recovering from the Great Recession, he added.
Because of cuts, the region will see only 1,200 jobs created in 2012. The defense department budget, which declined 4 percent in 2013, is also responsible for the region lagging behind state and national job recovery. From 2008 to 2010, the region lost 40,000 jobs but recovered fewer than 10,000 jobs by the end of 2012, according to the report. (More)

A wrecking ball inside Capitol dome
(Editorial, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 2, 2013)

The childish antics that resulted in closing much of the federal government Tuesday have cost this country plenty - and not just in dollars. Congress' refusal to compromise on a basic spending plan sent 800,000 federal employees home. Tens of thousands of others, such as air traffic controllers and prison guards, are working without pay.
And America's government, once the envy of the democratic world, has become a laughingstock.
Today, many of the Defense Department's civilian employees are out of work. NASA is largely unmanned. The Statue of Liberty is closed. Gates to the memorials on the National Mall, and all national parks, are shut. So are their websites. Even the wildly popular panda cam at the National Zoo has gone dark.
Why? Because a small group of tea party-led House Republicans so abhor the federal health care law that they will do anything - including embarrassing the nation and jeopardizing the livelihoods of millions of people - to stop it.
On Monday, the last day of the 2013 budget year, House Republicans twice passed a temporary budget tying government financing to changes in the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. ...
On Tuesday, Old Dominion University economist James Koch unveiled this year's "State of the Region Report." He and economist Gary Wagner pointed out that the sequester - while it could've been worse - had already trimmed Hampton Roads' regional domestic product by a half percentage point this year. A recession isn't far over the horizon.
In a region where Defense Department-related spending accounts for 44.7 percent, and direct Pentagon spending is 25 percent of that, a government shutdown looms large.
So does the frustration with Congress. (More)

Jackson, Northam to debate in Hampton Roads
(The Daily Press, Oct. 1, 2013)

Chesapeake preacher E.W. Jackson and Norfolk State Sen. Ralph Northam will face off in Norfolk on Tuesday for the second debate of the lieutenant governor's contest.
The two men are set to take part in a debate put on by the Virginia Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division and Old Dominion University's Student Government Association. It's being held at the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center at ODU at 7 p.m.
Moderating the event are Christopher Newport University political science professor Quentin Kidd and Virginian-Pilot reporter Julian Walker.
The candidates' last debate took place last week in Northern Virginia at George Mason University.
They will not be the only statewide candidates going toe-to-toe Wednesday. (More)

Report: Region's economy slows, but it could be worse
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 1, 2013)

Cuts in defense spending will end up costing Hampton Roads about 4,000 jobs in 2013, according to the State of the Region report, which was released this morning.
The regional economy was expected to add 5,200 jobs this year, but only 1,200 will be created, according to the report from Old Dominion University.
James Koch, professor of economics and president emeritus at ODU, is the report's lead author and was scheduled to discuss the highlights at a Norfolk breakfast meeting today of the group Lead Hampton Roads.
Between 2008 and 2010, Hampton Roads lost 40,000 jobs. Fewer than 10,000 had been recovered by the end of 2012. The region has lagged behind Virginia and the United States in terms of job recovery.
The region could have fared worse, though. The port of Hampton Roads and the local real estate market offer glimmers of hope, according to the report.
Economists originally estimated automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, would cost the region 17,000 jobs. But Congress softened the blow in the months that followed.
Still, as the biggest driver of the local economy, defense spending is largely to blame for the region's lackluster year, according to the report. Direct federal spending (in Hampton Roads) for defense dropped for the first time since at least 2000 - to $21.1 billion from nearly $22 billion in 2012.
Economists urged that Hampton Roads diversify its economic base in the first report, which was produced in 2001.
"We've said much the same thing every year since then, and now can report that over the past two years, we've become slightly less dependent on defense spending than we were in the past," according to the report. (More)

Teaching children when it matters most
(Opinion, The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 1, 2013)

E3: Elevate Early Education is a statewide advocacy movement that has set out to aggressively pursue and challenge our policymakers to make early education a priority.
When nearly 90 percent of a child's brain is developed by age 5, our public investment is lowest. Our policies are not keeping up with what the research is telling us.
Last fall, more than 10,000 kindergartners in Virginia arrived without the basic skills to succeed in school. Many children are so far behind when they start school that they may never catch up, and the statistics are not in their favor.
Third-graders who are not reading proficiently are four times more likely not to graduate from high school. This results in a real cost to taxpayers - nearly $80 million annually is spent on children who repeat grades K-3.
While our traditional views and approaches might have been successful in the past, a startling truth has emerged: Our students and our future workforce are falling behind. The things that worked in the past won't get us to new levels of growth in the global economy.
As a business leader, I believe early education is a business imperative and an economic driver that needs to be addressed if we're going to see the workforce we need to stay competitive today and in the future.
Early education is one of the most strategic investments we can make to propel the state's economy and ensure Virginia's competitiveness in the global marketplace. (More)

College Loan Debt - Causing More Than Just Financial Problems
(The Health Journal, Oct. 1, 2013)

After years of frugal living and months of searching for the perfect home with her new spouse and stepson, 32-year-old Tommy Gaskins nearly lost the contract on her home when her college debt was factored into the equation.
Gaskins accumulated thousands in debt through a failed attempt at completing college, but finally went back and earned an associate degree through an online university and a bachelor's degree through a combination of online and on-campus courses. She began making payments in 2000 after her first attempt at completing college. Except for a six-month period when she was laid off, she has been consistently paying down her debt since 2009 when she graduated with her bachelor's degree from Strayer University.
"The sad part is that my house that I just bought-I closed on it in March-will be paid for before my student loans," Gaskins explains. "It's super depressing."
With more than $54,000 left to pay back, Gaskins has placed attending graduate school on hold until she can pay down more of her debt. And according to several recent polls and studies, she is not alone. ...
There is some increase in the number of recent grads who are unemployed, but more often, there is increase in the number of graduates who are underemployed based on their levels of education, explains Tom Wunderlich, Old Dominion University's executive director of the Career Management Center. More alumni are holding on to "lifeboat" jobs they had in college to supplement lower than expected income or income from multiple part-time jobs, Wunderlich says. (More)

Jackson, Northam will debate Wednesday at ODU
(The Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 1, 2013)

Local voters have their only chance Wednesday night to watch two Hampton Roads candidates confront each other in a high-stakes contest for statewide office.
Republican E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister, and Democrat Ralph Northam, a Norfolk state senator, will square off in a debate at Old Dominion University sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the Virginia Bar Association and the ODU Student Government Association.
The two are vying for lieutenant governor, one of two down-ballot races in the Nov. 5 election that have taken a back seat to the high-visibility tussle for governor between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
But for a part-time job with only one major duty - presiding over the state Senate - the lieutenant governor's post carries outsized importance, for two reasons.
For one, occupants of the office have frequently used it as a platform from which to run for governor.
Of more immediate concern, the lieutenant governor is empowered to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate - a critical factor given the current partisan makeup of that chamber, 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans.
Under the gavel of outgoing Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican, the GOP has enjoyed effective control of the Senate for the past two years. Which party captures the seat in November will be a key element in the next governor's ability to get his legislative agenda enacted.
Wednesday's debate will be the second between Jackson and Northam and the only one in Hampton Roads. (More)

Wearable gadgets to track health are taking off
(The Virginian-Pilot, Sept. 28, 2013)

Amanda Hill doesn't stand at the sink while brushing her teeth. Instead she does it while going up and down stairs.
Why? To boost the "flights of stairs" score on an electronic gizmo that logs her every move.
Jessica Carlson goes for extra runs to stay ahead of family members sharing a friendly competition over the daily calorie and step counts recorded by their gadgets:
"I know my husband and my mother wouldn't judge me if I don't get 10,000 steps, but ... "
Well, they might smirk.
During the past year, these folks and millions like them across the country have donned wearable electronic devices and downloaded apps on cellphones to track everything from how many steps it takes to walk off the calories in a Whopper (a lot) to how well they're sleeping at night. ...
Tamara Morgan, assistant director of fitness and wellness at Old Dominion University, says one of them is simple monitoring. Call it the power of knowledge.
Another is being able to see the data over time, in a chartable fashion, right on your cellphone or tablet screen.
And there's no getting around this factor: competition. The social media crowd is all about keeping up.
Of course, some people will abandon their exercise routines - there are probably plenty of the devices in sock drawers along with old pedometers. But even if you only compete against your own numbers and time, the data can be helpful.
"You can challenge yourself," says Morgan, who monitors her heart rate during runs. "You don't have to do it in a group." (More)