- Last Updated on 08:05 AM 03/26/14
- BY Paula I. Bryant
Hopefully the last round of snow and ice is behind us, and our thoughts can turn to budding trees, colorful spring flowers, birds, bees and trails.
This Saturday will be opening day for the Tobacco Heritage Trail, and it will be the perfect time to kick off the season with a leisurely stroll or bike ride.
The Tobacco Heritage Trail is a multi-use trail for non-motorized travel. The trail, when fully developed, will consist of 150 miles of rail-trail plus connecting corridors in Halifax, Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Charlotte counties.
The existing portion of the Tobacco Heritage Trail here in Halifax County begins at Cotton Mill Park in South Boston and continues for 2.5 miles ending behind the Berry Hill Plantation.
Two additional miles of trail have been purchased and are awaiting development.
In celebration of spring and in conjunction with opening day for our local trail, Trails and Tourism Coordinator Heather Susee has announced a photo contest will be held for a chance to win a free Tobacco Heritage Trail T-shirt.
The winner will be chosen by Earth Day, April 22.
“We want to see how your celebrate spring. So dust off the sneakers, grab the kids, your friends and the family dog and step out for opening day. It’s the best time of the year,” she said.
Medicaid expansion battle is on
State lawmakers returned to Richmond Monday to debate the budget and whether to expand Medicaid in Virginia providing coverage under Obamacare to childless, non-disabled adults.
There’s been much hype about whether to expand it and if so how to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of uninsured state residents, but little has been said about how Medicaid expansion will more than likely increase the number of people receiving other taypayer-funded benefits.
If Medicaid is expanded, it’s no telling what kind of impact that will have on enrollment in other state government programs.
When these recipients apply for the expanded Medicaid coverage, they more than likely will be encouraged to apply for other government benefit programs like food stamps because applicants who apply for one program are often screened for a variety of others.
According to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Nutrition Service, a study is being conducted in states expanding Medicaid to find out exactly how what kind of impact it will have on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program.
Already more than one out of every 10 Virginians gets food stamps, according to University of Virginia researchers in the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service’s Demographics Research Group.
SNAP payments to 102,260 Southside recipients comprised a portion of the approximately $1.2 billion food stamp payments made in the state during 2012.
The 22 percent participation rate in Southside is nearly double that of Virginia overall, according to the research group.
Statewide, 11.6 percent of Virginians receive food stamp benefits.
Campaign Management Services conducted a poll for the Foundation for Government Accountability earlier this month talking to 469 Virginia voters to see how they felt about expanding the Medicaid program.
The poll indicated Virginians are split on the issue with 42 percent of those polled in favor and 41 percent against.
Many people will be following very closely the Medicaid expansion battle taking place in the special session this week in Richmond.
Hopefully, legislators will compromise and reach an agreement rather than shut down government in pursuit of Medicaid expansion.
Only time will tell.