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Senate OKs soccer goal safety law

A bill that aims to prevent death or injury from falling soccer goals has cleared the Senate and is now being considered by the House.

The Senate voted 33-6 last week to approve Senate Bill 933, known as the Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act. A movable soccer goal is a freestanding structure that consists of at least two upright posts, a crossbar and support bars but no secure form of support or restraint.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Winchester, would require every organization that owns such a goal to “establish a soccer goal safety and education policy that outlines how the organization will address any safety concern related to movable soccer goals, including the dangers of unanchored or improperly anchored soccer goals tipping over and the care that must be taken to ensure proper installation, setup, maintenance, and transportation of movable soccer goals.”

The Senate Education and Health Committee, on a 12-2 vote, had recommended that the full Senate pass the measure.

The bill comes almost five years after a fatal accident involving a boy from Stephens City, a town in Frederick County, which is in Vogel’s Senate district.

On May 7, 2007, Hayden Ellias, 10, was killed during a soccer scrimmage when a soccer goal fell over on top of him. His mother, Mary, “is the impetus for the bill,” said Tricia Stiles, Vogel’s legislative assistant.

Testifying before the Senate Education and Health Committee, Mary Ellias said: “There have been 32 reported deaths resulting from soccer goal tip-overs, most of which occurred at a practice. How do you explain to your children that their brother is dead because a soccer goal was not properly anchored?”

The bill would require parks, schools, youth clubs, soccer organizations and any other organization that uses a movable soccer goal to take action to ensure goal safety and prevent accidents.

SB 933 also would require that only tip-resistant movable soccer goals could be sold, made or distributed in Virginia after July 1, 2014.

“Prototypes for the tip-resistant soccer goals are being developed now,” Stiles said.

The bill does not contain a specific penalty; however, legal repercussions will arise for the organizations that fail to comply with the requirements, Stiles said.

Arkansas, Illinois and Wisconsin are among states that have passed similar laws to promote soccer goal safety.

“The attorney that was assigned to draft [the Movable Soccer Goal Safety Act] did look up the language from other states and did use some of that as a prototype for this,” Stiles said.

After passage by the Senate on Jan. 22, the bill was assigned to the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee. If approved by that committee, it would be voted on by the full House of Delegates.

The Ellias family has established an organization called Hayden’s Goal “to prevent injuries and deaths caused by the improper handling and use of soccer goals by increasing public knowledge and awareness about their correct setup and use.”

“It’s our mission – ‘Hayden’s Goal’ – to spread the word about anchoring goals and using [tip-resistant] goals. Referees, coaches, managers, players and especially parents need to know what they can do to prevent another tragedy like Hayden’s,” Mary Ellias said.


Community

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

Equestrian clinic planned July 7-8 in Henrico

Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.

Henrico school bus driver honored

The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.

Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Grab the kids and check out these fun family-friendly events taking place this weekend! Speed over to the Henrico Theatre for the film “Turbo” or watch “Dumbo” under the stars at Clarke-Palmore House Museum. Little ones can meet Thomas the Tank Engine at CMOR-Central or play at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

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Man Church, a White Hot Ministries program, meets every Friday morning from 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. at Joey’s Hot Dogs in The Shoppes at Innsbrook. Man Church helps men… Full text

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