News briefs for Nov. 6

Call first, burn later

Several of the county’s fire and rescue authorities have suggested lately that landowners who plan to burn brush or debris, or do a controlled burn of a field, call the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office first, at 540-675-5300. This will minimize the likelihood of local fire and rescue companies being dispatched needlessly for a report of smoke or a fire that is under control.

Two area hospices merge

As of Oct. 28, Hospice of the Piedmont (HOP) and Hospice of the Rapidan (HOTR) have completed their merger and now operate as a single, consolidated nonprofit organization.

The overarching mission of this merger is to provide exceptional patient and family care to those  in central Virginia who are seriously ill and dying. “Underlying that mission,” says a spokesperson for the new organization, “is our fundamental belief that the community-based nonprofit model is the best model for delivering exceptional care to patients, families, neighborhoods and communities.”

The new, combined entity will have a larger geographic footprint, serving the city of Charlottesville and the counties of Albemarle, Augusta, Buckingham, Culpeper, Greene, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange and Rappahannock. “HOP is now able to offer the high-quality, compassionate care that patients and families know and trust to a broader number of patients and their families,” says the spokesperson.

This partnership builds upon the strengths and great legacies of both organizations, which each have more than a 30-year history of providing end-of-life care to central Virginia residents. “The merger will enhance, improve and strengthen the delivery of nonprofit hospice care throughout our region by leveraging healthcare relationships, community support and clinical expertise,” says the spokesperson.

“By combining the two agencies into one, we will be able to function more efficiently in today’s healthcare world,” said Melissa Mills, regional clinical director of HOTR. “At the same time, we will continue to provide the skilled and compassionate care both agencies are known for.”

“The intent of this merger is to create an even stronger organization that will continue to grow and be sustainable well into the future,” said Dr. James Avery, who will serve as chief executive officer of the new entity. “We truly look forward to continuing to deliver the highest-quality hospice care, as well as contributing to the vitality of the economy of central Virginia.”

The new entity will be headquartered in Charlottesville, with additional sites in Culpeper and Warrenton. Patient care, community-based programs and all other services provided through HOP and HOTR will continue uninterrupted as the merger is finalized.

Number of Virginia-raised turkeys up from 2013

Virginia Farm Bureau

The number of turkeys raised in Virginia this year is expected to total 16 million, up 3 percent from the 15.5 million raised in 2013, according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

That agency’s Oct. 3 announcement is based on a Sept. 1 survey conducted in major turkey-producing states by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture found turkeys being raised on 663 Virginia farms that year. Rockingham County was the state’s No. 1 turkey-producing county, with 2.2 million birds. Augusta County was ranked second with 1.5 million birds, and Page County was ranked third with more than 734,000.

The number of turkeys raised nationwide this year is forecasted at 235 million, down 2 percent from 2013. The top turkey-producing state is Minnesota, at 45 million turkeys, up 2 percent from last year. Arkansas has produced 29 million turkeys, up 4 percent from last year. North Carolina turkey production has decreased by 18 percent to 28 million birds. Indiana production has increased 9 percent to 19 million.

Virginia is tied for the No. 5 ranking with Missouri, where production has decreased 6 percent since last year. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, turkeys are the commonwealth’s fourth-largest agricultural commodity, after broiler chickens, cattle and milk.

“Virginia is experiencing modest growth in turkey production, as are most of the leading turkey-producing states,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “The turkey industry here is stable and very important to other Virginia agricultural sectors, such as grain and soy, and support sectors, like energy, packaging and distribution.”

U.S. turkey production has increased more than 100 percent since 1970, and so has turkey consumption, according to the National Turkey Federation. Annual per capita consumption of turkey was 16 pounds in 2012. Although half of the turkey Americans ate in 1970 was consumed during the holidays, that percentage is now closer to 30 percent.

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