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Posts from April 2013
by AP posted Apr 29 2013 6:39PM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - A Virginia man charged with shooting a security guard inside the Washington headquarters of a conservative Christian lobbying group is scheduled to be sentenced this summer.
 
     A judge on Monday set a July 15 sentencing date for Floyd Corkins II of Herndon, who prosecutors say planned a mass shooting at the Family Research Council in August.
 
     Prosecutors have recommended a 45-year prison sentence for Corkins. 
 
     A security guard subdued Corkins in the lobby of the Family Research Council after he pointed a pistol at the man. Corkins fired three shots, and the guard was the only one wounded. 
 
     Corkins was carrying Chick-fil-A sandwiches. He later told authorities he had planned to kill as many people as possible and then smear the sandwiches on their faces as a political statement.
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Washington
by AP posted Apr 29 2013 6:38PM
 ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - A Maryland man with Tourette syndrome was barred from a JetBlue flight after repeatedly saying "bomb" during check-in.
 
     Nineteen-year-old Michael Doyle of Rockville had been scheduled to fly Thursday from Reagan National Airport outside Washington to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
 
     He told WTTG-TV (http://bit.ly/Y95OHl) that he brought paperwork documenting his illness in case he said anything to prompt a security concern. Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that can cause uncontrolled speech.
 
     He estimated he said "bomb" as many as 100 times. He said as he became more nervous, the problem worsened.
 
     The Transportation Security Administration let him board, but a JetBlue pilot kicked him off the plane before departure. The airline issued a statement saying the pilot initially had a security concern but later determined the situation was "innocuous."
 
Filed Under :
People : Michael Doyle
by AP posted Apr 16 2013 4:14PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - More than 100,000 uninsured Virginia residents with drug and alcohol addictions will become eligible for insurance when the federal health care overhaul goes into effect next year.
 
     An Associated Press analysis of government data finds that about 9 percent of Virginians need treatment for substance abuse. Of those 559,000 people, only 65,000 are currently getting treatment.
 
     Once the Affordable Care Act kicks in, an estimated 100,695 addicts would be newly eligible for insurance. That number would rise to 172,490 addicts if the state expands Medicaid.
 
     Nationally, the number of people seeking treatment could double and treatment agencies say that could swamp the system before even half of the newly insured show up at the door.
 
     About 93 percent of the 957 beds at Virginia treatment facilities already are occupied. 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by AP posted Apr 16 2013 11:21AM
     PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) - Virginia State Police say no one was injured when a Civil War-era shell was discovered buried in the backyard of a Petersburg residence.
 
     Sgt. Thomas Molnar says the ordnance was taken to a secure location in Dinwiddie County.
 
     Molnar tells The Progress-Index that the ordnance was dug up Monday during repair work in the backyard.
 
     Petersburg was under a nine-month siege by Union troops in 1864 in 1865.
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsWar_Conflict
Location : Dinwiddie CountyVirginia
People : Thomas Molnar
by AP posted Apr 16 2013 11:11AM
     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - About 70 people gathered in Richmond for a ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech.
 
     Joe Samaha's daughter Reema was one of the 32 people killed. He said Tuesday that the long-term solutions to campus violence include better mental health treatment and helping troubled kids. Samaha is president of the Virginia Tech Family Outreach Foundation, which was formed after the 2007 shooting rampage to promote campus safety.
 
     Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also addressed the crowd at the state Capitol, and a bell tolled once for each of the Virginia Tech victims.
 
     After the ceremony, state Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker declined to say whether Monday's Boston Marathon bombings prompted any security changes at Virginia Tech for its community picnic and other shooting anniversary activities.
 
     
 
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by AP posted Apr 15 2013 7:58AM
 WASHINGTON (AP) - Motorists in the Washington metro area are paying five cents less at the pump when compared to a week ago.     
 
     AAA Mid-Atlantic said Sunday in a weekly report that the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the D.C. metro area is $3.64 this week. That's compared to $3.69 a week ago.     
 
     Motorists in the region are also paying less than a year ago. At this time last year drivers were paying $4.03 per gallon.     
 
     The price of gas in the region is eleven cents more than the national average. 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Washington
by AP posted Apr 15 2013 7:58AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - Metro is scheduled to resume weekend track work after a four week break for cherry blossom season.
 
     Metro says ridership increases by an average of more than 15 percent during the cherry blossom season. Weekend ridership can double to near-weekday levels during nice weather as people head to see the flowers. 
 
     This year, Metro says April 10, a Wednesday, was the fourth busiest day in the system's 37-year history. 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Washington
by Associated Press posted Apr 12 2013 7:23AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - Three Maryland and five Virginia student teams are among 100 finalists competing in a student rocket challenge organizers say is the world's largest. 
 
     Teams competing in next month's Team America Rocketry Challenge must launch a rocket carrying an egg 750 feet and return it unbroken. The trip also must last between 48 and 50 seconds. The May 11 competition will be held at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va.
 
     The three Maryland teams are from River Hill High School in Clarksville, Great Mills High School and an all-girl team sponsored by the National Society of Black Engineers. In Virginia, two teams from Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria qualified, along with a pair of teams from Lake Braddock Secondary School and a team from Falls Church High School.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : EducationSports
by Associated Press posted Apr 11 2013 5:16AM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - A spring heat wave is breaking records around the Washington area.
 
     The National Weather Service says the temperature hit 90 degrees Wednesday afternoon at Reagan National Airport, breaking the previous record of 89 degrees set in 1922. The weather service says the temperature also hit 90 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, breaking the previous record of 89 degrees, also set in 1922.
 
     National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Klein says the lowest temperature on record for the date at Reagan National is 28, set in 1997. Klein says that was the low temperature for that day. The lowest high temperature for the date in Washington is 41 degrees, set in 1894.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Weather
Location : BaltimoreWashington
People : Jared Klein
by Associated Press posted Apr 11 2013 5:14AM
  RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Richmond man who stole a truck containing President Obama's audio equipment is due in court for sentencing.
 
     Eric Brown's hearing is set for Thursday morning in U.S. District Court. Prosecutors and Brown's attorney are asking the judge to impose a sentence of seven years.
 
     The 49-year-old Brown pleaded guilty in January to theft of government property. According to court papers, authorities in several localities have agreed not to prosecute Brown for similar thefts if the seven-year sentence is imposed.
 
     The 2005 van was stolen from a suburban Richmond hotel parking lot in October 2011, ahead of an appearance by Obama several days later. Along with audio equipment, the van contained a laptop computer, presidential seals and a podium. Some of the items were later recovered at Maryland pawn shops.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : MarylandRichmondVirginia
by Associated Press posted Apr 9 2013 7:02PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - An indictment says a Texas company that provided health insurance to Virginia Tech students fraudulently overstated claims by more than $9 million to boost its profits.
 
     The grand jury indictment unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Va., charges GM-Southwest Inc. and its former owner, 73-year-old John Paul Gutschlag Sr., with racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. 
 
     The indictment says that by overstating claims, the company was able to charge higher premiums to Virginia Tech and its students and discourage competitors from bidding to provide the service.
 
     Company officials did not immediately return a telephone message, and no phone listing could be found for Gutschlag in Frisco, Texas, where the company is based. Court documents do not list an attorney for the defendants.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : AbingdonFriscoTexasVirginia
by AP posted Apr 9 2013 10:59AM


     LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - A Liberty University student is dead after she fell at Crabtree Falls in Nelson County.
 
     Police and firefighters tell media outlets that the 18-year-old was with a group of Liberty students when the accident occurred Monday evening.
 
     The student hasn't been identified.
 
     It's the third death at the falls since 2010, and the 28th overall.
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Nelson County
by AP posted Apr 9 2013 10:58AM


     RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The president of the student government association at Virginia State University has been charged with hazing.
 
     The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Brandon Randleman appeared in Petersburg General District Court on Monday for arraignment on the misdemeanor charge.
 
     The charge stems from an off-campus incident in August 2012 that's being investigated by Petersburg police.
 
     The newspaper says two other students also were charged last week.
 
     University spokesman Tom Reed said he couldn't release information about the incident. Petersburg police spokeswoman Esther Hyatt also declined to release information, saying she hadn't had time to coordinate the release with the university.
 
 
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by AP posted Apr 9 2013 10:14AM

<VIDEO> A driver who was rescued from the mangled cab of her tractor-trailer while it dangled from the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel between Newport News and Suffolk, Va. has been charged in the wreck. She had to be plucked from the cab.
Filed Under :
Location : NewportVirginia
by Associated Press posted Apr 4 2013 6:50PM
   RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A public-private partnership is being launched to expand Virginia's cyber security industry and expertise.
 
     Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the Semper Secure partnership Thursday. The partnership will be funded by the state and industry.
 
     McDonnell says in a news release that the partnership will focus on several cyber security issues. They include ensuring workforce preparedness and availability, and fostering entrepreneurship.
 
     An independent board of directors will lead the partnership and report annually to the governor. Board members will include cyber security leaders from government and industry.
 
     Companies participating in the partnership include Northrop Grumman Corp and NetApp.
 
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Business_FinanceLabor
Location : Virginia
People : Bob McDonnell
by Associated Press posted Apr 4 2013 6:47PM
  WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Park Service has updated its predicted peak bloom time for the District of Columbia's cherry trees for a second time, moving it back a few days. 
 
     Officials had said the city's famous cherry tree blooms would be at their best between March 26 and March 30. Then, in early March, officials updated their forecast to say the peak bloom dates would be April 3 through 6. On Thursday, information on the Park Service's website said cooler temperatures have pushed the expected peak bloom to April 6 through 8.
 
     The average peak bloom date is April 4.   
 
     The cherry blossoms draw about 1 million visitors to the nation's capital each spring. This year marks the 101st anniversary of the gift of trees from Japan. 
 
Filed Under :
by Associated Press posted Apr 4 2013 6:40PM
  ACCOMAC, Va. (AP) - The former firefighter who confessed to setting the latest arson on the Eastern Shore of Virginia used a rag from his auto shop to light the abandoned home on fire, according to court documents released Thursday.
 
     Charles R. Smith and his girlfriend, Tonya Bundick, have been charged with arson and conspiracy to commit arson in connection with the Monday night fire in Accomack County. State police say that the couple is responsible for all but a handful of the 77 arsons set on the Eastern Shore since November and that additional charges are expected. Smith and Bundick are due in court in May.
 
     Smith is a former volunteer firefighter who owns an auto body shop in the Tasley community, and Bundick sells clothing out of the same building. According to search warrants released to The Associated Press on Thursday, Smith told authorities he tore a piece from a towel in his shop to light the fire.
 
     Police seized one blanket from his shop, along with 14 white towels from the gold 1997 Plymouth Voyager minivan he and Bundick were stopped in following the house fire. The warrants say police also seized seven lighters, two cellphones, black gloves, black jackets, black hats and brown gloves. Police have also seized a plastic gas can and laptop computers from the Parksley home Bundick and Smith shared.
 
     The first fire in the string of arsons that plagued Accomack County, which encompasses more than half of the Eastern Shore and borders Maryland, started in Parksley. Police have said that several of the arsons appear to be the work of a copycat or copycats, but they have not specified how they know that. Police have long speculated that at least two people were working together to set the majority of the fires because sometimes more than one was set on the same night, miles apart.
 
     The search warrants provide the most complete picture yet of how Bundick and Smith set the fire.
 
     According to the warrants, state police were conducting surveillance outside the latest home set on fire in Melfa on Monday night. After seeing a minivan stop in the roadway, they heard a vehicle door slam and could see someone run from the vehicle toward the back of the house. Police saw a flicker from a match or lighter in the back of the house, and then noticed a fire start at the rear door of the home where the person was standing, the warrants say.
 
     As the fire started, the person ran from the home back toward the street and saw the same minivan pick up the person and head toward the main highway that runs north and south through the Eastern Shore. After the fire was extinguished, a fabric was found wedged between the frame and the rear door of the building.
 
     The warrants say Smith admitted to Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin that he started the fire and told him that Bundick was the one who dropped him off and picked him up.
 
Filed Under :
by Associated Press posted Apr 2 2013 7:07PM
 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Bob McDonnell's amendment that would ban abortion coverage from insurance plans sold in Virginia through a health care exchange managed and funded by the federal government faces a close vote in the state Senate Wednesday.
 
     With Democrats and Republicans holding 20 Senate seats each, the governor's amendment to a health insurance reform bill is the most contentious measure during the one-day reconvened session to consider McDonnell's amendments to 80 bills and his six vetoes.
 
     In the House, expect McDonnell to catch the most heat from conservatives in his own party unhappy with a transportation reform bill they call a massive tax increase.
 
     But the first order of House business will be a lengthy and likely emotional farewell for retiring Del. Lacey Putney, the longest-serving legislator in Virginia history.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : PoliticsSocial Issues
Location : Virginia
by Deirdre Blake posted Apr 2 2013 7:02PM
<See Video at bottom of story>
Charles R. Smith III
 Tonya S. Bundick
 
  ACCOMACk, Va. (AP) - A former volunteer firefighter and his girlfriend were arrested Tuesday and are suspected of setting a majority of the 70 arsons on Virginia's Eastern Shore over the past five months.
 
     Virginia State Police say 40-year-old Tonya S. Bundick and 38-year-old Charles R. Smith III were arrested early Tuesday after another vacant residence was set ablaze. Smith also goes by the alias Charles Applegate. He is a former captain of the Tasley Volunteer Fire Department.
 
     Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says some of the fires do not appear to have been set by the pair.
 
     Bundick and Smith live in Parksley, a small community where the first of 77 deliberately set fires was lit. It is not clear whether they have attorneys. Both are set to appear in court Wednesday.

Filed Under :
Topics : Law_Crime
Location : Accomack County
People : Tonya S. Bundick
by Deirdre Blake posted Apr 2 2013 1:38PM
There is some good news for parents, guardians and others that want to start investing in college for a young person in their life.
The annual open enrollment for Virginia 529 College Savings Plan is extended to this Friday, April 5th. The plan allows pre-payment for the cost of undergraduate tuition at a state run college. Lump sum or monthly installment payments are also not due until May 1st. The investment for the buyer is also tax deductible.
Get more at www.virginia529.com.
 
Filed Under :
Location : Virginia
by Associated Press posted Apr 1 2013 5:33PM
  SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) - Drivers will soon have a chance to try using the new Capital Beltway express lanes in Virginia for free.
 
     Transurban, the group that operates the lanes says that drivers won't need an E-Z Pass to drive on the lanes this coming weekend. Spokesman Pierce Coffee says it will give drivers a chance to test drive the lanes when they aren't running late to work.
 
     Data from January showed ridership was falling below expectations, losing $11.3 million in the first six weeks. 
 
     Coffee says the I-495 Express Lanes are a new option, and they want to make sure drivers know how to use them. 
 
     Some drivers say think have to think hard about spending the extra money. But others say the lanes save them time.
 
Filed Under :
Location : SpringfieldVirginia
by Associated Press posted Apr 1 2013 5:32PM
  LEESBURG, Va. (AP) - Loudoun County emergency responders are holding a security drill, simulating an armed intruder at Loudoun Valley High School.
 
     The drill on Monday is scheduled to involve the county Sheriff's Office, school system, fire and rescue services and police from Leesburg, Purcellville and Middleburg. Virginia State Police are also joining the drill. 
 
     The drill is scheduled to run from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Officials say the area around Loudoun Valley High School will be sealed to the public during the drill, and residents should avoid the area. 
 
     School is not in session Monday for students, and no students will be present for the drill. It's a teacher work day.
 
     Officials say the full-scale drill will allow the county to test its current policies and procedures and to improve safety.
 
Filed Under :
Topics : Education
by AP posted Apr 1 2013 7:48AM

<VIDEO>      GALAX, Va. (AP) - Interstate 77 near the Virginia-North Carolina has reopened following a 95-vehicle pileup that killed three people and injured 25 others.
 
     The Virginia Department of Transportation says the southbound lanes reopened around 12 a.m. Monday. Authorities reopened the northbound lanes Sunday night.
 
     Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller says 17 separate crashes occurred within a mile span near the base of Fancy Gap Mountain. The wrecks began around 1:15 p.m. Sunday when there was heavy fog in the area.
 
     Geller says the crashes were mostly caused by drivers going too fast for conditions.
 
     School buses took stranded people to shelters and hotels.
 
     The Roanoke Times reports that there have been at least six such crashes on the mountain since 1997 but Sunday's pileup was the most deadly.
Filed Under :
Location : North CarolinaVirginia
People : Corinne Geller
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