Connie Stevens

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Stories from the Cemeteries

AmosMonroeThis fall, plenty of professors will be sending their students to the library, but one faculty member plans to send his kids into the cemeteries of Richmond to learn more about the city’s past.   He’s sharing the information with the public through a website and podcasts.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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McDonnell Trial: Following the Money

Media Gang at McDonnellOn day 20 of the former first couple’s federal corruption trial and day 3 of testimony from former Governor Bob McDonnell, jurors were able to follow the money. The last two days were focused on McDonnell’s troubled marriage and how it conflicted with his job as governor.  The former governor testified about the loans and relationship he had with ex-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Tommie McNeil reports.

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Former Governor’s 2nd Day on the Stand

McDonnell 082114Testimony by former governor Bob McDonnell during his federal corruption trial consisted of his description of the breakdown of his marriage and pleading to his wife and co-defendant, Maureen, about her overspending. The morning was pretty solemn—and at one point, there was some much-needed comic relief when he was asked about his own purchases.  Tommie McNeil reports.

 

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Former Governor on the Stand

Former Governor Bob McDonnell has now taken the stand in his corruption trial.

ToddHaymore

Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore

Prosecutors in the case turned the tables on another of the defense witnesses … and momentarily backed the McDonnells’ attorneys up against a wall.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, subsequent testimony from a cabinet member and other associates MAY have created some balance between the opposing cases in the middle of this third week of the trial.

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Defense Continues in McDonnell Corruption Trial

Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth

Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth

Day 16 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife opened with Judge James Spencer thanking the jurors for being there—and saying that he had prayed for each of them last night. That was a subtle reference to the loss of three jurors since the proceedings began. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the defense continued with its witnesses and meticulously focused on McDonnell’s sister and real estate business partner—who, like his wife, is also named “Maureen.”

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McDonnell Trial Update: Defense Calls the Witnesses

Janet Vestal Kelly, the former Secretary of the Commonwealth

Janet Vestal Kelly, the former Secretary of the Commonwealth

Day 15 of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began with the replacement of a juror who had to go out-of-state for a family emergency. That leaves just one alternate juror in the event that any others are excused. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, this week the defense is calling the witnesses—in hopes of casting doubt on the prosecution’s case.

 

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VaNews for 08.18.14

VPAPnewOne Virginia locality has taken a step toward ending its prohibition of fortune telling while another will offer a second chance to dogs that kill chickens. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at Virginia Public Access Project’s V-A news link on V-PAP-dot- org. Fred Echols reports.

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Dismal State Financial Report

Governor McAuliffe speaks to reporters as budget committee members look on.

Governor McAuliffe speaks to reporters as budget committee members look on.

“Not surprised—but still disappointing.” That statement from one of Virginia’s budget-writing committee leaders is the consensus of the others who heard a dismal financial report from Governor McAuliffe.  As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, they nevertheless applaud the Governor for his leadership… and have already begun figuring out ways to address the projected shortfall.

 

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McDonnell Corruption Trial: The Business of Banking

Nanette Bolt leaves the courthouse after testifying.

Nanette Bolt leaves the courthouse after testifying.

The prosecution is close to wrapping up its arguments in the federal trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. This time it focused primarily on how the former governor allegedly lied on mortgage refinance applications to cover up the loans given to him and the former first lady by ex-Star Scientific CEO, Jonnie Williams. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports from the federal courthouse in Richmond.

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VPAPnewResidents in counties around Richmond are up in arms about a plan to fertilize fields using industrial sludge and a Virginia sheriff is questioning the state’s moratorium on drones. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.  Fred Echols reports.

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Children’s Cabinet: Commonwealth Council on Childhood Success

Sec. Bill Hazel

Sec. Bill Hazel

Governor McAuliffe has signed two executive orders to create a new framework within his administration to potentially help more children succeed.  The goal is to develop, implement, and prioritize a policy agenda related to health, poverty, safety, education, nutrition, and housing.   And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the plan is to coordinate and strengthen public services on all levels —with a special focus on at-risk children in high-poverty communities.

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The Art of Smokey the Bear

Rudy Wendelin, "Why?" 1990. Image courtesy of the National Agricultural Library, U.S.

Rudy Wendelin, “Why?”
1990.
Image courtesy of the National Agricultural Library, U.S.

The Virginia Department of Forestry celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and fans of the forests will mark the 70th birthday of the best known fire fighter – Smokey Bear.  Sandy Hausman reports on a special art show organized to honor both.

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Corruption Trial Continues: Day 5

VADay five of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, kicked off with the former first lady’s attorney cross-examining the prosecution’s key witness, ex-Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the strategy seemed to include attributing most business dealings associated with the first family to Maureen and away from her husband.

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Cantor’s Farewell Speech

eric-cantor-steps-down-125x125Thursday was Virginia Republican Eric Cantor’s last day as Majority Leader, and his legacy is already being debated. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details.

 

 

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Jonnie Williams Testifies at Corruption Trial

Richmond Federal CourthouseDay four of the corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, picked up where it left off the previous day—with the prosecution’s star witness, Jonnie Williams. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the former Star Scientific CEO detailed the gifts and loans he provided to the former first family—and the point where he knew he believed he was crossing ethical and legal lines.

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Combating Campus Sexual Assaults

Getty Images, NPR

Getty Images, NPR

Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner helped introduce a bill today  to combat the high rates of sexual assaults on college campuses. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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CEO’s Assistant Testifies in Corruption Trial

Jerri Fulkerson at the courthouse in Richmond.

Jerri Fulkerson at the courthouse in Richmond.

Day three in the trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, opened up with testimony from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams’ assistant, Jerri Fulkerson.
As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, she testified that not only did the former first couple accept lavish gifts from her boss, but their children also received favors.

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Opening Statements

Maureen McDonnell arrives at the courthouse.

Maureen McDonnell arrives at the courthouse.

The second day of the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, began with instructions to the jury that they must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence—and not by leaks or media accounts. Prosecutor Jessica Aber recounted the indictment’s theory that the McDonnells exchanged official acts for gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the bombshells hit when the couple’s defense attorneys spoke.

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Jury Selection Begins in McDonnell Corruption Trial

DCIM100GOPROJury selection began today in the federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Prosecutors allege that the former first couple promoted Star Scientific’s products in exchange for gifts and mortgage loans from the company’s former CEO, Jonnie Williams. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the first step on Monday was to try and choose a fair and impartial jury.

 

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Court Strikes Down VA’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

SameSex MarriageVirginia and three other states may soon be allowing gay marriage after a federal appeals court ruling in Richmond, but supporters of a ban are expected to ask for a Supreme Court hearing.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

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VA Lawmakers Weigh in on the GOP’s ACA Lawsuit

ACALawsuitThe U.S. House is preparing for a big debate this week over whether President Obama overstepped his power by delaying the health care mandate for businesses. Virginia lawmakers have much to say about the challenge.

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VaNews for 07.28.14

VPAPnewA Virginia town is exploring its options for regulating fortune telling…and the state has come up with a new idea for moving more people into farming. Those have been among the most read stories over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Candidates Face Off

VADemocratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie traveled to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, over the weekend to participate in a debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. The event produced one tidbit of news, as Tim Thornton reports.

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Libertarian Senate Candidate Speaks Out

sarvis_robOne man seeking Mark Warner’s U.S. Senate seat was missing from the debate over the weekend, hosted by the Virginia Bar Association: Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian Party’s candidate.

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Sarvis Not Invited to Debate

sarvis_robThe political pundits will be keeping a watchful eye over this weekend’s events at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia, where Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner and his GOP rival, Ed Gillespie, square off in a Virginia Bar Association-sponsored debate. But also watching from the outside is their Libertarian opponent, Robert Sarvis, who once again, was not invited to the dance. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil examines the question asked by many: Why?

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Medical Expenses & Tax Breaks

MedicalExpensesWith people still adjusting to their insurance policies and premiums under the Affordable Care Act, now might not be the ideal time to tell Virginians that sales taxes associated with some health procedures, prescriptions, and even Band Aids could be passed on to them.  But that was one of the issues the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences has examined. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more.

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Former Governor’s Trial Begins Monday

Steven Helber/AP Photo via NPR

Steven Helber/AP Photo via NPR

The federal corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, begins on Monday. Federal prosecutors allege the former first couple performed official acts to promote Star Scientific’s products in exchange for roughly $165,000 in gifts and loans from its ex-CEO, Jonnie Williams—then failed to disclose most of those gifts. McDonnell says he never made such an agreement–and the company received NO quid pro quo. Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan takes a closer look.

 

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Kids Count Survey Results

KidsCountThe Annie E. Casey Foundation has just released its 25th annual Kids Count survey. And while Virginia has made progress in the areas of education and overall health, it still suggests that more children are living in impoverished homes and lack the community make-up or family foundation to help increase their likelihood of living successful lives. Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil explains.

 

 

 

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VA Lawmakers Debate Border Crisis

Border Crisis

npr.org

Lawmakers in the region are divided over how to deal with the president’s request for emergency money to deal with the flood of unaccompanied minors. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

 

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Backing Small & Minority-Owned Business

Reporters ask Gov. McAuliffe questions following a news conference.

Reporters ask Gov. McAuliffe questions following a news conference.

Governor McAuliffe has signed an executive order to increase the opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned companies to conduct business with the state. The goal is to promote equity—and maximize the participation of small businesses in work that’s obtained through procurement and state contracts. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, he also set a high goal for the number of participants.

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Mental Health Initiative Moves Forward

Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA

A new General Assembly panel is vowing to conduct a thorough review of Virginia’s mental health system, while not shielding any “sacred cows” in the process.  The Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the 21st Century held its inaugural meeting… and began by examining how the Commonwealth’s system is faring—then comparing it to other states. Members already seem determined to make reforms.  Anne Marie Morgan reports.

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Tale of Two Flags: Art Sparks Dialogue

Black Hair Flag Artist Sonya Clark sonyaclark.com

Black Hair Flag
Artist Sonya Clark
sonyaclark.com

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, an exhibit called “Posing Beauty” is in its final week.The show features a piece by an African American depicting the confederate and American flags woven in African hair. Just outside the museum, demonstrators with real confederate flags are far from wrapping up their protest of the VMFA where a pair of confederate flags were removed from the grounds. The artist and the flaggers share a mission: to remind the public of the importance of their heritage. May-Lily Lee reports.

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VaNews for 07.21.14

VPAPnewWith parts of Hampton Roads facing a rising sea level and stronger Atlantic storms one idea being talked about is a flood wall across the lower Chesapeake Bay…and someone in Portsmouth stirred things up when they decided to rejuvenate a sign at a subdivision entrance. Those are among the most read stories over the past week on  the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Proposal to Slash EPA Budget

epa_building_bigHouse Republicans are trying to slash the size of the EPA while also limiting its ability to regulate, which they argue will help the economy in places like Virginia. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Virginia 529 College Savings

va529While parents look for more affordable ways to send their kids to college, many are seeking information about the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a new briefing by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission suggests that the state’s Plan may be one of the most viable and sustainable options.

 

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New Book Offers History of the Virginia Education Association

VEA ClassroomThe Virginia Education Association got its starts in the middle of the Civil War.  The story of the VEA’s last 150 years is told in a book set for release next month. Joe Staniunas reports.  

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Virginia Retirement System

VRS 02The return on Virginia Retirement System investments fell 21 percent in 2009—but the pension fund has now rebounded and is exceeding expectations. That’s the message delivered by VRS officials to state lawmakers.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, all are cautiously optimistic that the fund’s health will keep improving.

 

 

 

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Hobby Lobby Case Pushes Legislation

hobby-lobbyMost Virginia Democrats are pushing legislation to overturn last week’s Supreme Court decision allowing some companies to deny contraception to employees. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.

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Internet Sales Tax Debate

SalesTaxAnother national debate is taking center stage in Virginia—this time over a potential Internet sales tax. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, one group that’s opposed to out-of-state e-commerce taxation and the federal Marketplace Fairness Act says they have overwhelming proof that Virginians don’t want it.

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VaNews for 07.14.14

VPAPnewA Virginia County is trying to find out what happened to seven thousand people its police have identified as undocumented over the past few years…and organizers of a Fourth of July demonstration in Richmond in favor of gun owners rights went ahead with their plan even when no one answered their call for support. Fred Echols reports.

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Immigration Reform: Partisan Sniping

FlagNow that immigration reform has essentially been pulled from the docket during this legislative session Virginia lawmakers are bracing for the impact on the state’s economy – as some lawmakers brace for what executive actions President Obama prepares to take. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the details.

 

 

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Taking a Chance on New Theater

CATFA small, colonial-era town in Appalachia may not seem the most likely venue to watch cutting-edge contemporary theater. But every summer, since 1991, Shepherdstown, West Virginia has been a hot-bed of new American plays.  Rebecca Sheir checked in on rehearsals for the Contemporary American Theater Festival at Shepherd University, which opens July 11th.

 

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Boosting Biotech & Generating Jobs

BiotechVirginia, no longer ranked as the best state to do business, still has a strong economic footing, especially in Northern Virginia. But because the state is so heavily reliant on defense contracts which have recently been on the federal chopping block, Governor McAuliffe is looking to strengthen the state’s economy through other avenues. More from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

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Legislative Resignations

Moving OnIn June, four state lawmakers unexpectedly resigned their seats in the General Assembly.  While legislative retirements are not unusual, four Democrats in one month calling it quits before their terms expire is not the norm—and left many to wonder why.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the answer may be as simple as timing and opportunity.

Special elections will be held on August 19th for the vacant seats that were held by Puckett, Howell, and Brink.

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New Laws: Part 5 of 5

OverseasAs Virginians celebrate American independence this weekend, many can’t help but think about our veterans past and present—as well as the rights and nation that they have defended. So as we continue our series on new state laws that just took effect, Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports on one that directly impacts those who have served overseas … another that addresses state energy resources … and a third that affects the Commonwealth’s democratic process.

 

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New Laws: Part 4 of 5

VA DriverSome laws are now in effect that impact Virginia motorists—and they’re not necessarily punitive. In fact, some were passed because drivers asked for them. In Part 4 of our series on new state laws, we have more from Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil.

 

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New Laws: Part 3 of 5

PatentLawThe message from Virginia lawmakers to “patent trolls” is:  If they plan to make a claim of patent infringement, they had better be able to prove it—and answer to the Attorney General’s office if their claim is bogus. It’s one of the new state laws that Governor McAuliffe ceremonially signed.  And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the Governor believes such laws will inspire MORE innovation—and not suppress it.

 

 

 

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VaNews for 07.07.14

VPAPnewStarting this month Virginians who use a certain type of two-wheeled transportation are no longer allowed to cruise without a title and license plate…and if you think nobody saw the downfall of Eric Cantor coming, think again. Those are among the most read stories recently on the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link at vpap.org. Fred Echols reports.

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Full Disclosure: Clutter Cleaner Matt Paxton

20140520_social_icon_200x200_lne-1National business correspondent Roben Farzad has launched a new radio podcast recorded in Richmond. The program is called Full Disclosure, and in the months ahead you’ll hear some content from the program, as we share his weekly effort to translate the language of finance and investing. The theme of this week’s program?  Bending, Not Breaking.

Farzad talks with Richmond entrepreneur Matt Paxton.  He’s best known for his business Clutter Cleaner, featured on the reality TV show Hoarders.  But it was a long climb to success for Paxton.  While working at the Federal Reserve after college, he fell into gambling.  In 1999 he was $40,000 dollars in debt to a bookie.  He was beaten up, and left in the ditch outside a casino.  He headed home to Virginia.

Paxton also cleaned out crime scenes and foreclosed homes for a decade to pay off maxed-out credit cards at a 22-percent interest rate… he considers it a form of indentured servitude.  But it all led to a successful national business and television show.

You can hear the full story of Paxton’s failure and redemption, on Roben Farzad’s Full Disclosure.

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Delegate Morrissey Calls Allegations Baseless

State Delegate Joe Morrissey

State Delegate Joe Morrissey

Henrico Delegate Joe Morrissey says he will not resign his seat in the General Assembly following this week’s indictment that stems from his relationship with a teenager.  He made the statement after a fellow Democrat, Delegate Mark Keam, had called on Morrissey to step down.  Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil has more details from the State Capitol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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