U.S. transportation officials issue oil train safety measures

AP photo

AP photo

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal transportation officials say they’re taking a series of steps to improve the safety of trains hauling crude oil and other flammable liquids, including an emergency order limiting train speeds to no more than 40 mph in “high impact” urban areas. Among other steps announced Friday by the Department of Transportation is a warning to railroads to use the latest technology to check for flaws in train wheels. Major freight railroads are already limiting oil trains to no more 40 mph in urban areas under a voluntary agreement, but the order makes that a requirement and extends it to trains carrying other flammable liquids like ethanol. There have been dozens of fiery crashes over past decade involving trains hauling oil and ethanol in the U.S. and Canada, including the one in Lynchburg last April.

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Forest man charged with attempted arson of own home

Michael McCarty

Michael McCarty

From the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office: At 9:08 p.m. Thursday night, Bedford County 911 dispatchers received a call from a female who advised that she and her husband, Michael W. McCarty, age 56, were arguing and he was threatening to burn down their house. She also advised she had left the house, however prior to leaving she witnessed him with a gas can. Deputies responded to the 2300 block of Bateman Bridge Road. As deputies arrived, they observed a man run into the house. As they approached the home they saw a man inside holding a five gallon gas can. Deputies made entry in the house and after a brief struggle McCarty complained about injuries. He was transported by ambulance to Lynchburg General Hospital and subsequently released. After leaving the hospital, deputies arrested McCarty and charged him with one count of threatening to burn an occupied building and one count of attempted arson of an occupied building. Further charges are possible. He is being held in the Bedford Adult Detention Center without bond.

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State income tax assistance offered for Lynchburg residents

lynchburg logo - important announcementsState income taxes are due by Friday, May 1. The Commissioner of the Revenue Office provides free State income tax assistance to Lynchburg residents. Bring a copy of your completed Federal tax return and supporting documents to the Commissioner of the Revenue Office and someone will complete your State return. No appointment is necessary. If you have any questions you can call the Commissioner of the Revenue Office at (434) 455-3870.

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Registration is open for Lighten Up Lynchburg

lynchburg logo - important announcementsOn Saturday, May 16, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., the Mayor’s Youth Club will host the Lighten Up Lynchburg: 5K Run/Walk to Fight Obesity in Peaksview Park. A registration fee of $23 is required, and all those who register will receive a free t-shift. The race is open to all ages and will be timed by Riverside Runners. Trophies will be awarded to the top finishers in various categories. For more information and to register, click here.

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Lawmakers reject proposed McAuliffe amendments on police drone use

WLNI-GENERAL-ASSEMBLYState lawmakers cited privacy concerns in rejecting Governor McAuliffe’s proposed amendments Wednesday to a bill that sharply limits when law enforcement can use drones to gather evidence. The governor’s proposals would have allowed more widespread drone use without warrants, but both houses voted the proposed changes down, as WLNI’s Evan Jones reports.

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Jeb Bush to deliver Liberty Commencement keynote address

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush

From Liberty University: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be the keynote speaker for its 42nd Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9. Bush served as governor from 1999 to 2007 and was Florida’s first two-term Republican to hold the position. During his tenure, he cut nearly $20 billion in taxes, vetoed more than $2.3 billion in earmarks, and reduced the state government workforce by more than 13,000. His limited government approach helped unleash one of the most robust and dynamic economies in the nation, creating 1.3 million net new jobs and improving the state’s credit ratings, including achieving the first ever triple-A bond rating for Florida. Bush is credited for environmental, health care, and economic improvements in the state and for overhauling its education system.

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Prosecutor: Noah Thomas left home with baby on day he disappeared

Noah Thomas

Noah Thomas

PULASKI, Va. (AP) _ A prosecutor says the parents of a Virginia boy found dead in a septic left him at home with his infant sister on the morning he disappeared. Pulaski County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Fleenor says Ashley White and Paul Thomas told investigators they left 5-year-old Noah Thomas and his 6-month-old sister at home while White drove Thomas to his job on March 22.   The Roanoke Times reports that Fleenor made the comments on Wednesday during a bond hearing for Paul Thomas. Thomas and White both face child abuse and neglect charges. White previously told investigators the children made the trip, and that the boy disappeared after they came home. Searchers found Noah Thomas’ body on March 26 in a septic tank on the family’s property. The father was denied bond.

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Three Lynchburg women indicted on federal fraud charges

GavelFrom the U.S. Attorney of Western Virginia’s office:  Three local women are facing federal fraud charges following a grand jury indictment that charges them with mail fraud, wire fraud, student loan fraud, and other charges. A federal grand jury sitting in Roanoke, Va. has charged Melinda Smith, 42, Catherine Pankey, 61 and Vernetta Johnson, 40, all of Lynchburg, Va., in connection with an alleged scheme to defraud insurance companies and the federal student loan program. According to the indictment, between 2011 and 2014, Smith, Pankey and Johnson allegedly bengaged in a scheme to submit Free Applications for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to get FederalStudent Aid (FSA) credit refunds for online classes for the purpose of obtaining money to which they were not entitled.

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Lawmakers to vote on governor’s vetoes and amendments

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia state lawmakers are returning to the Capitol to vote on Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s vetoes and proposed amendments. The GOP-controlled General Assembly will reconvene for its so-called veto session Wednesday. Among the legislation lawmakers will consider are tighter gift caps proposed by McAuliffe. The governor wants $100 aggregate gift limits from lobbyists and others with financial interests in state government, rather than a $100 per gift limit that lawmakers approved in February during the final minutes of the 2015 regular legislative session. The governor has also proposed amendments that would weaken bills aimed at limiting police surveillance technology like drones and license plate readers. Law enforcement groups support McAuliffe’s amendments, but civil liberty advocates do not.

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Virginia elections board decertifies touchscreen system

board elections logoRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The State Board of Elections has decertified a touchscreen voting system used in about one-fifth of Virginia’s precincts. The board’s action Tuesday means the WinVote machines can no longer be used in Virginia elections. Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an investigation after widespread voting irregularities during the November general election. The glitches included machines crashing or recording a vote for the wrong candidate. The Virginia Department of Elections hired a federally certified voting system test lab to assist in the investigation, and the findings raised serious security concerns about the WinVote system that is used in 30 localities. A report said the system’s wireless capability makes it susceptible to a security breach. WinVote, certified by Virginia in 2003, is the only system in the state with wireless capability.

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