Central Va. apple growers adjust to rising costs

WLNI-MLYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ Rising costs have prompted some Central Virginia apple growers to change their production methods. The Nelson County Times (http://bit.ly/1usDNqw) reports that many orchards have bought smaller trees or dwarf trees, which are easier to prune and harvest. The smaller trees reduce labor costs and require fewer ladders. Saunders Brothers owner Jim Saunders says the orchard wants to harvest fruit as close to the ground as possible. The family-owned Drumheller’s Orchard reduces labor costs by putting family members to work. Morris Orchard has begun planting more varieties of apples and apples that are more resistant to disease. Owner Judy Barnes says people want newer varieties of apples in addition to traditional varieties.

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UPDATE: Do remains belong to missing UVa. student?

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

Update: Mon., 10/20/14 4:03 a.m.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Police blocked off roads and were searching for clues in an area where they found remains that could be missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. The 18-year-old Graham hasn’t been seen since Sept. 13 after a night out with friends. The remains were found Saturday about 12 miles from campus. The man Graham was last seen with, 32-year-old Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr., has been charged with abduction with intent to defile Graham. He’s being held in the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing is set for Dec. 4. It’s not clear how long it will take authorities to identify the remains they discovered over the weekend.

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Natural gas pipeline debate likely to intensify

WLNI-SThe debate over  a new natural gas pipeline is likely to intensify in Virginia as pipeline plans become firmer. As things stand, one of the routes would carry natural gas under parts of Nelson County. The industry says pipelines are the safest way to transport energy sources, but opponents say they can be disruptive to homeowners and the environment. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more on the debate.

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3 Va. colleges’ support staff pay exceed average

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A new report says support staff salaries at three public higher education institutions in Virginia exceed the average of similar schools nationally. According to the report, the average salaries of upper- and mid-level support staff at most public higher education institutions were near or below the average of their peers nationally. Average salaries at the University of Virginia, Virginia Military Institute and Virginia Tech topped the average of similar schools nationally. The report says the primary reasons for the higher-than-average salaries appeared to be the base salaries of top executives, senior institutional officers and academic and associate deans. Virginia Tech, U.Va. and VMI tell the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1sYNlwB) that the report’s conclusion is based on faulty peer groups. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission released the report last week.

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Va. Tech president wants larger endowment

Timothy Sands

Timothy Sands

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands wants to double the school’s $800 million endowment and make the university one of the top 100 world research institutions. The Roanoke Times reports Sands made the comments Friday at his official installation, four months after taking the job. Sands also wants to make a Virginia Tech degree affordable for any Virginia student who can qualify for admission. The comments come as Virginia grapples with a $2.4 billion budget shortfall that has already led to $45 million in cuts to higher education. Sands is the school’s first president since James McComas to have no previous ties to Virginia Tech. He has spent much of his time in office meeting with students, faculty, staff and state and local leaders to listen to their concerns.

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Underdog Gillespie says he sees path to victory

CAMPAIGN-2014RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Senate candidate Ed Gillespie is behind in the polls and campaign cash with little more than two weeks before Election Day in Virginia. But the former high-powered Washington political operative says he’s enjoying his underdog campaign and feels that momentum is in his favor. The Republican Gillespie is trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Warner, a popular former governor seeking a second term. Gillespie says the media and pundits are missing what’s happening on the ground, and that people unhappy with President Barack Obama’s energy, health care and tax policies — and Warner’s support for them — will help Gillespie win in November.

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