New Virginia Tech president installed today, believes VT can expand geographic reach and prominence

Timothy Sands

Timothy Sands

Virginia Tech formally installs President Timothy Sands into office this afternoon, a president who believes the university can expand its geographic reach and prominence. Sands says one way to achieve that it by better getting  the word out on what Tech has to offer both on campus and in the workplace beyond. WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story.

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Experts: gas “price war” possible among OPEC countries

Gas-Prices1Oil prices have fallen sharply in recent days, and experts say there’s more room left to go even lower — including the possibility of something not seen in decades: a “price war” among OPEC countries. WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story.

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Contract awarded for new US 501 bridge over James River

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT)From the Commonwealth Transportation Board: At its monthly meeting today, the CTB awarded two contracts worth approximately $27.3 million for major infrastructure work. One of the projects will replace the James River bridge on U.S. 501 in VDOT’s Lynchburg District. The CTB awarded a contract for approximately $16.8 million to Orders Construction Company Inc. of St. Albans, W.Va., to replace the bridge on U.S. 501 over the James River and adjacent rail tracks at the Amherst-Bedford county line.The project will construct a two-lane, steel-girder superstructure. The new 40-foot-wide bridge will have shoulders to accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. The structure will be about 0.7 miles from the existing structure. Project road improvements will include right- and left-turn lanes at the new “T” intersection of U.S. 501 and Route 130. The project also will add a multiuse pull-off for public river access and accommodate enforcement of vehicle weight restrictions and VDOT emergency operations. The project is scheduled for completion on April 21, 2017.

Click here for full project information.

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UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Staunton River High School

Bedford CountyUPDATED 2:00 pm — The lockdown is now lifted.

EARLIER: Bedford County Public Schools officials say Staunton River High School was placed on lockdown this morning after a “threatening message” was found inside. The Bedford County Sheriff’s Office says the message was written on a bathroom wall.  Major Ricky Gardner says School Resource Officers “are working with school officials to ensure the safety of the students and staff at the school. Bedford County Sheriff’s deputies along with the Virginia State Police are on the scene.”

(Continue reading for the full Sheriff’s office news release.)

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McAuliffe announces layoffs, increased booze costs

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is planning to lay off 565 state workers and raise the prices of distilled spirits at state-owned liquor stores as he aims to close a state budget shortfall.  McAuliffe detailed his plans Wednesday as part of an effort by state officials to bridge a $2.4 billion budget gap.  McAuliffe said most of the layoffs would come from the Department of Corrections, which will close multiple facilities. It also will delay the opening of a women’s correctional center. The governor said he also plans to sell one of the Virginia State Police’s planes and not fill 27 out of 68 vacant state trooper positions. McAuliffe said the budget cuts were the most difficult experience of his term so far but called the plan a sensible approach.

Related story: Booze price hike irks Va. consumers, restaurants

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New telescope lets Liberty students see the heavens as never before

LU photo

Liberty University  photo

Liberty University students now have a new way to discover the heavens, thanks to a new telescope that Liberty says is the largest in the region.  It can automatically track objects across the night sky and is equipped with cameras to take digital images with enhanced detail that the human eye cannot see. WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story.

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One full month after her disappearance, Hannah Graham’s parents release new statement in hopes of finding her

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

It has been one full month since  University of Virginia student Hannah Graham disappeared, and her parents today issued a statement expressing heartbreak that the person or persons who know where she is have not come forward with the information. Graham was last seen alive in the early morning hours of September 13th. There is a $100,000 reward for information that leads to finding her.

(Continue reading for the full statement from Hannah Graham’s parents.)

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Hannah Graham’s disappearance now one month old; investigators seek forensic links to unsolved murders

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

Today marks one full month since UVA student Hannah Graham disappeared in Charlottesville. As the search for her continues, experts say forensic evidence is likely to play a key role in efforts to link this case with several others in recent years. The latest from WLNI’s Evan Jones.

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Consignment store owner faces more burglary charges, this time in Bedford County

Katie Hyatt (Source: Lynchburg PD)

Katie Hyatt

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McAuliffe cites Hannah Graham disappearance in first campus sexual assault task force meeting

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

A recently-created task force has until June to prepare and present recommendations to Governor McAuliffe on ways to create Virginia college campuses free from the threat of sexual violence. As WLNI’s Evan Jones reports, McAuliffe cited the disappearance of UVA student Hannah Graham Thursday when he addressed the first task force meeting.

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