Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Frank Wagner1 voiced support for broadband internet development and career and technical training during an interview at the Review’s office Friday in West Point. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) is running against Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart in the Republican primary. Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello vie to be the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. The primary elections will be held June 13. The following is edited for clarity.
You’re the first major party gubernatorial candidate to visit the Tidewater area. What made you decide to stop by?
This is manufacturing. This is the manufacturing center. And I’ve chaired the manufacturing and development commission in the General Assembly2 since its inception 14 years ago. This is what drives Virginia’s economy. This is what we want to grow. We’d love to see the paper mill expand here. We want to see a thriving manufacturing industry. And it’s important I stop by and talk to the citizens of West Point.
Local governments have made pushes toward establishing or expanding broadband internet in our area, with officials calling broadband an important economic and quality of life asset.
As governor, what could you do to help those efforts?
Broadband has gone from a “nice to have” to a utility. You can’t attract any new major companies or expect expansion without access to broadband. Broadband has become important in the individual household for education purposes and shopping. There were bills in the last General Assembly session to restrict running broadband around the commonwealth by those that are in the business already. I led the charge to kill those bills because we should be doing everything we possibly can to advance broadband through every neck of the commonwealth. There are private entrepreneurs out there. I had dinner with a gentleman from Giles County who’s running broadband in Giles County and making a profit.
I asked him “what’s the number one problem you have?” and he said “I need eight more technicians to run cable.” So business is good. We need to look at what our electric co-ops were first put into place for. They were put into place because for-profit utilities would not run electricity to rural areas. Now we’re in that same posture here in 2017 with broadband. I believe most of the co-ops want to participate in the broadband industry. That is what they do and I think its natural extension of why they were chartered to begin with. I think we need to facilitate and work with our co-ops to bring broadband to every place they are bringing electricity to.
Local school districts are invested in providing local avenues to career success.
West Point schools coordinated a career day event last year with WestRock Paper Mill. King & Queen allocated money to the school district to start up a vocational training program as part of the fiscal year 2018 budget.
While providing a path to higher education remains a priority, providing a path to technical careers is gaining importance in the minds of officials. Local officials want opportunities at home to maintain localities’ populations, as well. What could you do as governor to support these initiatives?
I’m the only candidate in either party who has made career technical education a major plank of his education reform package. I’ve worked in shipyards and worn a hard hat and safety glasses my whole life. I’ve come to experience we’re not getting young people interested in that. These are high paying jobs and with full benefits. We need to retool our education system.
Two paths to accreditation for a school system, two paths to accreditation for a school. Now we need to bring career technical education to the importance I believe it needs to be. As early as middle school, as early as sixth grade, we need to expose students and their parents to the great opportunities available in the career and technical field. That’s why I’m pushing another path to accreditation for a school system. They can either go down the traditional SOL accreditation path or the career and technical field path where you receive industry credentials. These are where the jobs are in Virginia. Everywhere I go, every business I talk to, “what’s your biggest problem?” “I cannot find skilled labor.” It is holding Virginia economy back today.
And if we expect to grow and diversify the economy of Virginia, we’re going to need more of these students. Now, right here in West Point it’s important. Obviously, the paper mill experiences the same problems that every other business in Virginia does. They want good, young talent that are going to keep that company rolling for the next 20, 30, 40 years to come. Once we have this program set up, then we can look for ways to expand on manufacturing and attract more.
West Point’s greatest single source of local income is the machinery and tools tax, which is anticipated to provide $2.8 million of the town’s overall expected $7.1 million in local revenue for fiscal year 2018. Gillespie has pitched elimination of the machinery and tools tax as part of his tax plan. What’re your thoughts on his idea?
That either shows a lack of experience or a total unfamiliarity with Virginia and manufacturing towns like West Point. If you were to abolish those taxes one of two things would have to happen in West Point. Either tremendously reduced services, perhaps loss of the school system, or a tremendous rise in property taxes for the citizens of West Point. While it might sound good in a campaign it doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s going on in Virginia. Your governor needs to have the experience to understand what the implications are when you make a statement or drive down a road toward that policy.
The area’s natural resources are seen as a tourism booster, and several localities are in the midst of exploring how to expand on their natural resource assets to bring in tourist dollars.
Is there anything you could do as governor to support tourism in the Tidewater?
It’s obviously a very beautiful part of the world that hasn’t fully exploited the tourism opportunities and the ecotourism up and down the rivers here. We have a wine industry in the region. I want to emphasis the state and the governor needs to be a facilitator based on the locale’s needs and what the local population wants. West Point and New Kent and Charles City are drive-by points right now on the way back and forth to Hampton Roads or back and forth to Richmond with so much to offer. I think we could do a lot better in promoting those areas.
The opioid epidemic hasn’t hit this area as hard as other parts of the state, but local officials are still worried about the issue. What steps as governor would you take to address the opioid epidemic?
It’s a multi-pronged problem and it’s a multi-pronged solution. First and foremost it’s education among our people about the dangers. Prevention and education is key to stop the cycle. We’ve done significant reforms in terms of physicians’ ability to prescribe these particular painkillers.
There’s a law enforcement aspect. Those that are dealing heroin we need to deal with even more harshly than we have in the past. We need to recognize those who are already addicted. We need to ensure we have the detoxification facilities.
It would be our goal to want to get every addict back to being a productive member of society.
Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.
UK broadband operator Virgin Media said it plans to extend its fibre network in the southern English county of Kent to up to 108,000 addresses. It said work has already started in the town of Ashford to connect up to 8,000 new premises and the company expects to complete work in the county before the end of 2018.
Virgin Media offers download speeds starting at 100 Mbps, compared to what it said is a current Kent average of 18 Mbps, and can supply up to 300 Mbps to residential clients and 350Mbps to businesses.1
As part of the so-called Project Lightning, the company is investing GBP 3 billion to extend its fibre broadband network to an additional 4 million premises, to reach a total of 17 million homes and businesses. On 29 March, Virgin Media revised its guidance for broadband roll-out2 after discovering employees had overstated the progress of the project, leading to the appointment of a new chief operating officer3 and increased oversight from US parent company Liberty Global.
Finding an image for something you know the name of is easy, but the other way round things are more complicated. Our helpful tutorial explains how to find what is in your mystery image with reverse image search.
Search for images like one you already have on your phone
The pub quiz picture round is a prime example for this problem: you have an image in front of you and you need to know what it is. You could try putting descriptive terms into Google’s search query field in hope of getting lucky with the image results, or a better solution would be to try searching by image rather than words.
(We are not condoning cheating on pub quizzes, before anyone complains.) So let’s do that. In front of us is a pub quiz picture round featuring various characters from The Simpsons.
We’ve named the first 14 characters, and we’re stuck on the last. We could Google “old guy with orange skin, white hair, Simpsons character, BAM”, but the following steps are a lot easier.
Find a mystery image using reverse image search on your phone, tablet, laptop or PC
o Launch the browser on your smartphone and go to https://ctrlq.org/google/images (That’s a bit of a mouthful to remember, so you can also just search for ‘reverse image search’ and select it from the results.)
o Tap the Upload Picture button o Choose Camera when prompted
o Using your phone’s camera take a photo of the image you want to search.
Try to get it in focus and taking up as much of the frame as possible o Tap the tick icon to select that image and begin uploading it to Google’s reverse image search tool. This may take a few moments, so be patient
o When the process is complete you will get a message Image Uploaded. Click Show matches o A new Google Images search results page will pop up with some suggestions – so we now know our mystery character is Kent Brockman
o If the service doesn’t offer you any results, try taking a photo of the image on your phone, cropping in using the built-in image editor, then uploading the edit to the reverse image search service. This will also work on your laptop or PC, but you will be prompted to upload an image file rather than to take a photo. Read next: Best camera phones 2017