Archive for October, 2014
Proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules aimed at reducing carbon emissions, generating more energy from renewables, and addressing global warming are getting a cold reception from one of the state’s most influential agencies. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, while environmental groups support the regulations, others contend that they’re much too burdensome, unrealistic, and aggressive.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is one-of-a-kind – a privately funded medical facility for injured animals from across the Commonwealth. To make ends meet, the Waynesboro Center will host a fundraiser and auction featuring some surprising items. Sandy Hausman has that story.
Imagine being a Virginia resident obtaining an Ivy League education at a school such as Harvard—without having to pay all the costs associated with an out-of-state college experience. While that may not be possible at that specific university right now, a new state law authorizing on-line education reciprocity agreements between Virginia and other states could make that a reality in the near future. Tommie McNeil explains.
Experts suggest that Jesse L. Matthew Jr., the man authorities link to the Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington cases, stands no chance of bail and little chance of a life outside of prison– even if he attempts an insanity defense. Hawes Spencer has this report ahead of Matthew’s court appearance Friday, October 31st.
What would the nation’s energy policy look like if Republicans capture the Senate this fall? Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo caught up with Virginia lawmakers and energy analysts to find out the potential impact on the commonwealth.
While the U.S. Senate and congressional elections have garnered most of the news headlines, Virginia voters will also see something else on the ballot when they go to the polls next week. It’s a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would enable local property tax relief for the surviving spouses of members of the military who were killed in action. It’s a measure that sailed through the General Assembly without ANY “no” votes.
The board that oversees a pair of historic Richmond theaters got an October surprise in the form of a hefty property tax bill on the publicly owned buildings.
A blue-ribbon panel created by Governor McAuliffe to probe state and local ethics laws and recommend reforms met for the first time Monday and got right to work. After approving a statement of principles, the Governor’s Commission on Integrity and Public Confidence in State Government then plunged into a discussion of current laws among the states … and ethics policies that are thought to be “best practices” nationwide. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, with the governor’s December 1st deadline for their proposals just around the corner, the members speedily reached a consensus on a number of concepts.
The lawyer now tasked with representing Virginia’s most embattled criminal suspect has a long track record, primarily on the prosecution side of the courtroom. Is Jim Camblos the right lawyer for the man charged in the case of Hannah Graham, the 18-year-old University of Virginia student whose remains were publicly identified on Friday, October 24?
You may have heard rumors, grumblings, and conspiracy theories about planned attacks by ISIS or ISIL militants on American soil—but nothing credible. While the news media are NOT in the business of creating panic, we are raising awareness as it’s passed on to us. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a recent FBI bulletin sent to media outlets warns that the terror organization is trying to persuade noncombatant sympathizers to execute or kidnap specific groups of American citizens.
For nearly five years, a rock band t-shirt that mysteriously appeared near the University of Virginia has been one of the most connective yet perplexing clues in the death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington. Hawes Spencer reports.
With charges starting to pile up against the man blamed for one woman’s rape and another’s disappearance, who decides where to prosecute first? Hawes Spencer has this report.
Halloween reminds us that it can sometimes be fun to explore the dark side. And the rise in popularity of horror movies of the last couple of decades seems to confirm that. A Virginia Tech Professor of pop culture is taking a closer look at scary movies to see what they tell us about the stereotypes that drive them. Robbie Harris has more.
The Virginia Commission on Youth is scrutinizing the practice of finding new homes and transferring custody of adopted children—while bypassing state oversight and safeguards. The practice—known as “re-homing”—was uncovered through last year’s Reuters and NBC News investigation, which found an underground market for adoptive parents who no longer wish to care for their adopted child. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Anne Marie Morgan reports, the panel’s focus is on mitigating the reasons that some adoptive parents change their minds.
Jesse Matthew, the suspect in custody for the abduction of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham, has been indicted on charges related to a 2005 rape in Fairfax.
Forensic evidence links Jesse Matthew to the 2009 disappearance of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington in Charlottesville, which had previously been linked to the Fairfax rape, officials said.
Meantime, the man who called in a tip that led to the discovery of human remains behind an empty house in southern Albemarle, says that it was the sheer number of vultures that caught his eye. Hawes Spencer reports.
A vaccine aimed at helping cigarette smokers quit, is entering the next phase in testing. A Virginia Tech professor who’s been working to develop the vaccine got a $2.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the vaccine. Robbie Harris has more.
A Virginia family wants the state look more closely at older drivers after a fatal highway accident…and the issue of loss of farmland in the Commonwealth is at the center of a debate in York County. 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.
Police in Albemarle County are waiting for results from the state’s crime lab – hoping to learn whether remains found over the weekend are those of missing UVA student Hannah Graham. Sandy Hausman reports on the discovery and what it may mean for the only suspect in the case – Jesse Matthew, Jr.
With the disappearance of Hannah Graham, Morgan Harrington, Alexis Murphy, Dashad Smith and other young adults, some people wonder if a serial killer is at work in and around Charlottesville. Sandy Hausman talked with law enforcement experts who say that’s possible – but other factors may account for these tragic cases, Central Virginia isn’t the only place reporting missing people, and such things have occurred in the past.
While state officials express confidence, health care professionals are preparing on the front lines. Sandy Hausman paid a visit to the University of Virginia Medical Center where staff was invited to a lunch-time discussion of ebola. That presentation suggests one of Virginia’s premiere teaching hospitals could handle a couple of cases but maybe not a major outbreak. Sandy Hausman has the story.
The possibility that a now-deceased Ebola patient could have spread the virus to fellow travelers as he waited in a Virginia airport has prompted several state lawmakers to ask Governor McAuliffe to use his authority to impose travel restrictions on Dulles Airport. But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, the state’s Health Commissioner cautions against overkill … and says Virginia’s health professionals are doing everything they can to keep the situation under control.
Police have a suspect in the disappearance of Hannah Graham, but their investigation continues. They’re not saying much, but in the first of a two-part series, Sandy Hausman looks at what may be going on behind the scenes and why.
Although the two men are vying for the U.S. Senate seat held by Warner, the Virginia General Assembly and ethics questions surrounding the resignation of former state Senator Phillip Puckett were drawn into the debate.
Federal investigators have been looking into allegations that some Republicans may have offered Puckett a job on the Virginia Tobacco Commission in exchange for his resignation, which switched control of the state Senate to the GOP. Gillespie brought up a recent Washington Post story reporting that Warner had called Puckett’s son and discussed job possibilities for Puckett’s daughter.
Warner explained that he has been a friend of Puckett and his family for nearly 20 years: He added that he spoke with Puckett himself the next day and it was clear that he had made up his mind. Warner later told reporters that he was asked to call Puckett’s son by Democratic state Senator Dick Saslaw and Governor McAuliffe’s chief-of-staff, Paul Reagan.
The “People’s Debate” in Richmond was televised statewide and sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Virginia, AARP of Virginia, WTVR-TV, and WCVE-Public Television. The Libertarian candidate, Robert Sarvis, was not invited to participate in the debate.
Spending on support functions at Virginia’s public colleges and universities is one reason that higher education costs have escalated over the last two decades. That’s the conclusion of the latest report by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, which has been studying why the costs of a college education have soared. The study also found that improving organizational structure and purchasing strategies could help rein in those costs.
When critics question how effectively the Virginia Tobacco Commission is using hundreds of millions of dollars the state received from the National Tobacco Settlement there’s one project that always seems to come up.
It started five years ago as a $25-million grant to establish a medical school in Bristol. Since then the only two things that have been consistent about the plan are the absence of any apparent progress and the Tobacco Commission’s continuing support. Fred Echols reports.
This week, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts will paint the town red, opening a massive new show from China. Sandy Hausman reports on The Forbidden City – a look inside the palace that two dozen Chinese emperors called home.
Danville City Council must decide whether the Confederate flag will continue to fly over the site of the final cabinet meeting of the Confederacy…and gun rights activists are angry after the sheriff of Stafford County moved to prevent the open carrying of firearms at a National Night Out event. Those stories have been among the most read over the past week at the Virginia Public Access Project’s VaNews link on vpap.org.
While Charlottesville Police have received thousands of leads in the case of a missing student, they now have a new responsibility: running the search for the young woman. Hawes Spencer has this update.
Accused of unconstitutional gerrymandering, Virginia’s General Assembly was told last week by a federal district court in Richmond that it must redraw its Congressional map next year because too many black voters are “packed” into one majority-minority district. But state lawmakers could actually avoid a contentious debate and not address the issue at all during their next session. As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, it is possible.
While it is true that many Virginians do not have health insurance, that number is dwarfed by those who don’t have affordable access to oral health facilities and dentists. And as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, because poor dental hygiene also leads to other health problems, Virginia lawmakers are now studying the most feasible ways to address the problem.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban is already having an impact. The 4th Circuit issued its mandate early Monday afternoon, and same-sex couples began lining up at local courthouses to get married. One of the couples who successfully sued to overturn the state Constitution’s marriage provision renewed the vows that they had first taken in another state. Anne Marie Morgan reports.
There’s no argument about the fact that any amount of lead in drinking water is unsafe. No matter how much, it’s too much, of this potent neurotoxin. But lead has been showing up in well water tests around Virginia. About a fifth of the state’s residents get their water from wells. As Robbie Harris reports, the findings are new evidence of a problem many thought had been solved.
Virginia’s new voter I-D law has Virginia Democrats worried after the state board of elections found nearly two hundred thousand registered voters don’t have a driver’s license. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story on how Republicans say Democrats are overreacting.
Virginia Democratic Senator Tim Kaine is urging the Bureau of Indian Affairs to loosen requirements for federal recognition because six Virginia tribes remain locked out. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story.
More than 100 law enforcement officers from across central Virginia joined trained search and rescue teams to search rural areas of western and eastern Albemarle County Sunday. Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo says, “Every square inch of Albemarle County is being searched this weekend and we’re going to find Hannah Graham.”
It’s billed as a party where science is the guest of honor… this Saturday, the Virginia Science Festival kicks off its week-long celebration of science, technology, engineering, math – and everything in between. Hundreds of events and demonstrations are scheduled in locations all over the commonwealth – from a “brain scavenger hunt” in Alexandria to “rat basketball” in Richmond. Kelsea Pieters and Robbie Harris have more.
As Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil report, one way to save could be the free Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.
In recent years, as the National Park Service has faced deep funding cuts and a stagnant number of visitors, the country’s demographic changes have made its problems more pronounced. Most visitors to National Parks are white, and increasingly they’re also older. For instance, Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is one of the nation’s most visited and accessible parks, yet recent research indicates that 92% of visitors in 2011 were white.In hopes of shifting the numbers, the Park Service is now supporting new programs and grassroots groups working to attract underrepresented categories of visitors: young people, African-Americans and Latinos. Jonna McKone has the story of the group “Girl Trek” working to get African American women healthier — using National Parks to inspire long-term health.
Virginia Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly says the resignation of Julia Pierson as director of the Secret Service was “inevitable” after she failed to tell lawmakers about a man with a gun riding an elevator with the president. Capitol Hill reporter Matt Laslo has the story…
While cat- and dog-lovers sometimes have contentious debates over which beloved animal is smarter, more adoring, and the overall better pet, a much more serious debate is taking place in Richmond about the two. And that is—when it comes to feral and stray cats, why aren’t they afforded the same rights as dogs?