Feds: no charges coming on senator’s resignation

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Federal prosecutors have decided not to pursue federal criminal charges related to the resignation of a Democratic state senator that helped sink Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s effort to expand Medicaid. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Timothy J. Heaphy sent a letter to various interested parties Friday saying his office was closing its investigation into former Sen. Phil Puckett, whose decision to quit the Senate prompted potential job offers from powerful officials in both parties. His abrupt departure gave Republican control of the upper chamber. Puckett was in line for a potential high-level job at the GOP-controlled Virginia tobacco commission at the time of his resignation. He was also offered a potential job for his daughter not to resign by McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan.

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Delegate proposes new bill on college reporting of violent felonies

UVA-LogoStudent boards and college administrators should not be determining whether or not a charge of sexual assault is reported to law enforcement agencies … so says a delegate ready to co-sponsor a bill in the General Assembly session next month… more from WLNI’s Gene Marrano:

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Puppy Room Returns to Liberty

Liberty FlamesThere’s nothing that “man’s best friend” can’t fix. Each semester, Liberty University’s final exams take a toll on the students. A few years back, the Falwells realized the stress level and decided to have a ‘puppy room,’ for students to come and visit during business hours. The popularity of the ‘puppy room’ grows each year and is a great way for students to de-stress, even if it is for ten minutes.

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Hunters for the Hungry Short on Donations

hunters 4 hungryHunters for the Hungry is in need of donations. According to the program’s website, it’s at a 17 year low in the number of pounds of venison it has been able to make available to hungry families throughout the state. Since its beginning in 1991, the program has processed and distribute over 22.2 million quarter pound servings. But assistance in meeting those needs is urged for this year. The hunting season continues in various ways through Jan. 3. Hunters, hunting group and clubs are encouraged to commit to harvesting a deer or two and donating to the program. To learn how you can help visit: www.h4hungry.org.

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New Animal Control Facility Endorsed

Campbell CountyThe Campbell County Public Safety Department is endorsing a new animal control facility. The Public Safety Director told the Board of Supervisors last week that the current facility did not have the required space for euthanasia OR for adequate isolation of sick animals. The county was cited for significant findings of noncompliance following a May 8 inspection by the state Office of Animal Care and Health Policy. The Altavista Journal reports county staff believed building a new facility would be the most effective long-term option; while meeting all current state requirements. On December 2, the board delayed a vote pending outcome of a renovation feasibility evaluation.

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Delegate Backing Bill to Leagalize Industrial Hemp Production

Virginia-flagA local delegate, is backing a bill to legalize industrial hemp production in Virginia. House Bill 1277, seeks to take advantage of a new federal provision allowing states to set up pilot programs to grow hemp and research its potential as a commercial product. Del. Matt Fariss of Rustburg is one of three Republicans and four Democrats that have lent their names to the bill. The News & Advance reports, nationally 19 states have put similar laws on the books. HB1277 will be considered in the 2015 General Assembly session that convenes Jan.14. If passed, the bill will require hemp producers be licensed and regulated by the state.

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Lynchburg wants residents to take a survey

City of Lynchburg“Tell us how we’re doing,” asks the City of Lynchburg … and residents can do that via an on-line community survey … more from WLNI’s Gene Marrano:

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Liberty aviation program gets FAA certification

Liberty University logoLYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ Liberty University’s aviation program is among the first in the country to earn a national simulator certification. The Lynchburg school says its School of Aeronautics has received FAA certification as part of the National Simulator Program. The certification is held by only six other universities in the nation. Liberty has upgraded its entire fleet of Cessna 172 flight simulators to offer a more realistic flight-training environment for students. Officials say the accuracy of the simulation reduces training costs by allowing students to increase their proficiency in a wider array of flight skills without ever leaving the ground.

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Judge expands sentencing memo for ex-governor

Former Virginia  Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Lawyers for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will be allowed to file a longer-than-usual brief about his upcoming sentencing on federal corruption charges. U.S. District Judge James Spencer on Wednesday gave McDonnell permission to submit up to 50 pages instead of the maximum of 30 allowed by Richmond federal court rules. McDonnell’s attorneys said in court papers that they needed the extra pages because they expect prosecutors to seek an exceptionally long sentence, and they needed to discuss their client’s entire life. Prosecutors opposed the motion. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of illegally trying to help a dietary supplement maker in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Bob McDonnell’s sentencing is set for Jan. 6. Maureen McDonnell’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 20.

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Virginia House GOP leaders propose $100 gift cap

STATE-NEWSRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates are proposing a $100 limit on the value of gifts to state and local elected officials. House Speaker Bill Howell and other GOP leaders announced the proposal Wednesday. The cap would apply to tangible gifts and intangible gifts, like meals and entertainment. Ethics reform will be a major issue for the 2015 General Assembly following the federal corruption convictions of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. They face sentencing early next year for accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from the CEO of a dietary supplements company in exchange for promoting its products. An ethics panel formed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe has proposed a $250 gift cap. The House GOP leaders say the public is demanding more.

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