Liberty provost to retire, law school dean resigns

Liberty University logoLYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ Two top officials at Liberty University are stepping down. Liberty says in a news release that Provost Ronald Godwin will retire at the end of October, while School of Law Dean Matthew Staver has resigned. Both men will continue to serve Liberty as consultants. Liberty announced the departures on Monday during the All-Faculty Meeting. Godwin has served as provost since late 2010. He has been at Liberty for more than 20 years, serving in a variety of roles. Staver has led the law school since it was established in 2004. Staver says his resignation will allow him to spend more time with his wife. She was injured in a car accident more than a year ago and has been receiving specialized medical care in Florida.

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UPDATE: Suspect in Charlottesville abduction charged in DC area rape

Jesse Matthew, Jr.

Jesse Matthew, Jr.

Update: Tues., 10/21/14 4:41 a.m.

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ Authorities have brought additional charges against the man accused of abducting an 18-year-old college student in Virginia: the abduction, rape and attempted capital murder of a 26-year-old woman in a Washington, D.C. suburb. A Circuit Court grand jury in Fairfax County handed up the indictment against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. on Monday. Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Morrogh declined to discuss details of the case, but did say the victim is cooperating. The 32-year-old Matthew had already been charged with abduction with intent to defile University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham, who disappeared Sept. 13. Authorities searching for Graham found human remains last weekend that have been taken to the Virginia Medical Examiner’s office in Richmond for identification. A spokesman could not say Monday when the results would be ready.

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Va. joins higher ed distance learning agreement

Education-News1RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia higher education officials are making it easier for students to take online classes and for universities to offer them. The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia announced the joining of a multi-state reciprocity agreement on Monday that deals with authorization and payment for distance learning courses. Colleges and universities that offer distance learning to students in other states were previously required to seek authorization from those states. Officials say that process is both costly and complex. The pact addresses those issues by automatically allowing schools to offer those classes to out-of-state students if the courses are approved by another state’s higher education organization. Officials say the hope is to have all 50 states and the District of Columbia ultimately participate in the agreement.

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Va. continues meetings on transportation plans

Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB)ROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ The Commonwealth Transportation Board is holding public meetings this week on the state’s six-year highway improvement plan. One meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Northside High School. The other meeting will be held Wednesday in Bristol at the Holiday Inn Bristol Conference Center. Similar meetings have been held in Lynchburg, Chesapeake, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Weyers Cave, Fairfax and Culpeper. The board allocates funding for essential highway, bridge, rail and other transportation projects. In June, board members approved a final $13 billion transportation blueprint for Virginia over the next half-dozen years.

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Va. health agency launching quit smoking campaign

QuitNowVirginiaMastheadRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia health officials are launching a campaign to help cigarette smokers kick the habit. The Virginia Department of Health says it is counting down to Virginia Quit Day on Nov. 20. Tips and support will be posted on the agency’s Facebook page every day leading up to the event. The agency also is including information for people helping support friends and family in their decision to quit smoking. State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine says quitting tobacco is the single most important step a person can take to improve their health and quality of life. The Virginia efforts are being done in concert with the Great American Smoke Out campaign.

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Va. crime panel looks at police ID procedures

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia State Crime Commission is examining whether police are doing enough to ensure the accuracy of eyewitness identifications. The commission is set to hear a report on the issue Tuesday. Thirteen of the 16 people wrongly convicted in Virginia and later exonerated by DNA evidence originally were misidentified by eyewitnesses. A study released last year by a University of Virginia law professor found that most law enforcement agencies in the state are using outdated eyewitness identification procedures. Only 6 percent of the 144 agencies responding to a survey had implemented a model policy recommended by the state Department of Criminal Justice Services in 2011. A new study by the National Academy of Sciences reinforces the need for the type of policy recommended but not fully implemented in Virginia.

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Gilmore’s PAC aims to boost Gillespie

CAMPAIGN-2014RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Gov. Jim Gilmore’s super PAC is paying for new ads in support of Senate candidate Ed Gillespie and other Republicans. Gilmore announced Monday that his political action committee will air radio and TV ads in support of Gillespie, who is facing Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Warner. The super PAC is also paying for radio ads in support of GOP Senate candidates Joni Ernst in Iowa and Scott Brown in New Hampshire. A spokesman for Gilmore declined to say how much the ad buy would be in Virginia, but said the entire buy for all three states is in the low six figures. The Growth PAC reported raising only $7,500 from two donors in its most recent quarterly campaign finance report. Warner easily defeated Gilmore in the 2008 Senate race.

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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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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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