Saved for now, Sweet Briar College looks for a long-term fix

Sweet-Briar-College-215x300SWEET BRIAR, Va. (AP) _ Students are returning to classes at Sweet Briar College, months after the women’s college in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains seemed destined to shutter. The school’s former leaders said in March the school would close under insurmountable financial woes. But former students refused to believe that. Alumnae took matters into their own hands, raising tens of millions of dollars to assure the 114-year-old liberal arts college would open this academic year. When students return this month, they’ll have a new president. Phillip Stone left a law practice with his grown children to take over Sweet Briar. He’s a former president at another liberal arts college where he oversaw large enrollment growth. Stone says growing enrollment from the present 300 to 800 students is key to Sweet Briar’s survival.

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Va. retirement system officials earn state’s top salaries

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Seven Virginia Retirement System officials top a list of the highest-paid state employees. The annual list compiled by the Richmond Times-Dispatch shows chief investment officer Ronald D. Schmitz was the highest-paid state employee in fiscal 2015, with a compensation package of $930,913. Charles W. Grant was the second-highest paid state employee, with a compensation package of $741,630. Grant manages the system’s internal asset division. Five other retirement system officials earned at least $536,000. University presidents and professors, medical school administrators, and physicians also are among the top 25 earners. The newspaper says their total compensation may not reflect some forms of pay, such as deferred compensation and various allowances. The newspaper obtained the salary information through the Freedom of Information Act.

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VCU investigated for how it addresses sexual violence

VCURICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Commonwealth University is under federal investigation for how it addresses sexual violence. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that VCU has been added to the list of 131 higher-education institutions under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Neither the university nor the federal office would disclose details of the case that put VCU on the list. VCU this month put new procedures in place for addressing assault allegations, capping a yearlong effort to bring its Title IX polices into compliance at a cost of about $1 million. Five other Virginia schools are on the list of those being investigated. They are the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, James Madison University, the University of Richmond and Washington and Lee University.

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Judge: UVa murder defendant must wear jail clothing for now

Jesse Matthew, Jr.

Jesse Matthew, Jr.

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ A man charged with abducting and killing a University of Virginia student won’t be allowed to wear personal clothing in court until his trial. Defense attorneys argued Thursday that Jesse Matthew Jr.’s case has already been prejudiced by news reports and courtroom sketches showing him shackled and wearing a jail-issued jumpsuit. They said he should be able to attend pretrial hearings unshackled and in personal clothes so he can more fully participate in his defense. Albemarle County Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins denied the motion, but said she would decide on a hearing-by-hearing basis whether Matthew’s restraints can be loosened enough to allow him to take notes. Matthew is charged with capital murder in the September 2014 disappearance and death of 18-year-old Hannah Graham. His trial is set for next summer.

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As options run out, McDonnell turns to U.S. Supreme Court

Bob and Maureen McDonnell (Associated Press photo)

Bob and Maureen McDonnell
(Associated Press photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ His legal options running out, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on Thursday turned to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that he be allowed to stay out of prison while he makes his final appeal on public corruption convictions. Earlier Thursday, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond refused to grant McDonnell’s request to remain free while appealing to the high court. That decision means McDonnell would probably have to report to prison within the next several weeks to begin his two-year sentence, handed down in January for doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. But McDonnell’s attorneys filed an emergency application hours later to the Supreme Court, asking for a delay of the lower court’s decision or to let McDonnell remain free on bond while he makes his final appeal. The request was made to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles emergency appeals from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Roberts can decide the matter himself or refer it to the full Supreme Court. There is no set timeline for Roberts or the court to make a decision.

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Agencies say wrong bear killed following attack on hiker

WLNI-SMILLBORO, Va. (AP) _ State officials say authorities killed the wrong black bear following an attack on a hiker at Douthat State Park. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation say DNA test results indicated that the bear’s DNA profile didn’t match the profile of DNA collected from the hiker’s clothing. The agencies said Thursday in a joint statement that the bear was found close to where the incident occurred in a remote section of the park. They say the bear matched the description of the animal that attacked the hiker on Aug. 8. The hiker, Laura Cooksey of Midlothian, was treated for injuries at a local hospital. The park has conducted information campaign since the incident to education visitors about bear safety.

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Lynchburg Police arrest three, seize $100,000+ in gang-relating shootings probe

Eric Payne

Eric Payne

Stephen Spinner

Stephen Spinner

Christopher Thomas

Christopher Thomas

From Lynchburg City Police: On August 19, 2015, the Lynchburg Police Department, with assistance from the Virginia State Police and the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office executed five search warrants at four separate locations in the City of Lynchburg and one location in Amherst County. During the execution of search warrants, the following items were seized: five firearms, $109,955 in cash, and a significant amount of gang-related paraphernalia from several locations. These search warrants and the arrests listed below are related to the gang-related shootings previously discussed during the 8/18 press conference.

(Continue reading for the full list of suspects and charges.)

Read the rest of this story »

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Lynchburg Police: suspect arrested for recent gang-related shooting

Orlando Oliver II

Orlando Oliver II

From Lynchburg City Police: On 8/18/2015 at approximately 1553 hours, several 911 calls were received about multiple shots being fired in the area of Floyd St. and Park Ave. Officers with the Lynchburg Police Department responded to the area and discovered that a bullet had struck a window in a dwelling in the 1300 block of Park Ave. No one was injured as a result of the shots being fired.As a result of the investigation, Orlando Roselle Oliver II, 18 years of age of Lynchburg was arrested and charged with six counts of maliciously shooting at a motor vehicle and one count of maliciously shooting into an occupied dwelling. The investigation into this shooting indicates that this incident is directly related to the gang-related shootings previously discussed during the 8/18 press conference.Additionally, Oliver was charged in connection to the shooting that occurred on 8/16/2015 at approximately 2355 hours in the 1100 block of Wise St. (This is one of the incidents discussed during the 8/18 press conference) During this incident, Oliver is believed to have shot multiple rounds into an unoccupied dwelling. In relation to this incident he was charged with two counts of attempted malicious wounding, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, reckless handling of a firearm, and willfully discharging a firearm in the city. Oliver was held without bond.

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Date set for Maureen McDonnell appeal

Bob and Maureen McDonnell (Associated Press photo)

Bob and Maureen McDonnell
(Associated Press photo)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A date has been set for when prosecutors and lawyers for former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell will argue over whether her corruption convictions should be reversed. The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday scheduled oral arguments in McDonnell’s appeal on Oct. 29. A jury in September found the Maureen and former Gov. Bob McDonnell guilty of doing favors for a nutritional supplements executive in exchange for $165,000 in gifts and loans. The former Republican governor, once considered a possible running mate to Mitt Romney in 2012, has been sentenced to two years in prison. His wife was sentenced on Feb. 20 to one year and one day in prison. Both are free on bond while they pursue appeals.

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Judge to consider pretrial motions in Hannah Graham murder case

Jesse Matthew  (Photo: Charlottesville PD)

Jesse Matthew, Jr.

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ A judge is set to consider several pretrial motions in the case of a man charged with abducting and killing a University of Virginia student. Jesse Matthew Jr. is charged with capital murder in the September 2014 disappearance and death of 18-year-old Hannah Graham. His trial is set for next summer. Albemarle County Circuit Judge Cheryl Higgins is set to consider about a dozen defense motions at Thursday’s hearing. Among them is a request that she bar people in the courtroom from displaying any symbols supporting Graham. The county’s chief prosecutor has filed court papers opposing that motion and most others.

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