RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s House of Delegates has approved a bill that would allow students in underperforming schools to switch to a different one within the same district. The bill was approved by the Republican-controlled House with a 57-42 vote on Tuesday. Under Republican Del. James LeMunyon’s bill, the state would identify 12 underperforming public schools and give students there the choice to transfer to another school in the district. The bill heads to the Republican-controlled Senate. Virginia Education Association President Meg Gruber says it hasn’t formally taken a position on the bill but has practical concerns about it. She said she questions what would happen if a lot of students wanted to switch a school that’s already overcrowded.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ One of Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s biggest donors and political allies has turned against him with an advertisement campaign condemning a deal he struck with GOP leaders on gun policy. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s group Everytown for Gun Safety took out a full-page advertisement in a Richmond newspaper on Tuesday declaring that “Terry McAuliffe is wrong” and urging residents to pressure him into scrapping the deal. Everytown has also been running online ads comparing McAuliffe to the head of the National Rifle Association. McAuliffe’s administration is standing by the deal, which it says as a whole will make residents safer. Bloomberg has been one of McAuliffe’s biggest political patrons. His political action committee was McAuliffe’s single largest non-party donor during his successful 2013 gubernatorial bid.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A bill that’s making its way through Virginia’s General Assembly would prevent political parties from requiring voters to sign a party affiliation statement in a presidential primary. The Republican-led Senate voted 34-5 to approve the bill Monday. It heads to the House. The state Republican Party had planned to require voters in the party’s March 1 primary to sign a statement affirming they’re Republicans before casting a ballot. But it later changed its mind amid criticism from Donald Trump supporters. A judge rejected Trump supporters’ attempt to block the loyalty oath, but the party rescinded its decision to use it anyway, calling it “bad publicity.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the bill applies only to state-sponsored primaries and that parties could still hold their own nominating contests with an oath.
Virginia State Police have issued a Senior Alert on behalf of The Luray Police Department. 73-year-old Leonard Charles Fox was last seen on Horsepen Road in Luray on Monday evening. He has a cognitive impairment and his disappearance poses a credible threat to his health and safety. He may be driving a green 1999 Ford Ranger pickup with the registration number ZVY-3503. Fox is a 5’5″ white man with brown eyes and gray/black hair. He weighs around 233 lbs. Do not approach him. If you see him call 911 or 540-743-5343.
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Organizers held a vigil in Blacksburg to remember the life of a 13-year-old girl who was fatally stabbed last month. The Roanoke Times reports that more than 100 people gathered in downtown Blacksburg on Monday night to honor Nicole Madison Lovell. Light poles in the area were strung with blue Christmas lights and members of the community held candles throughout the night. Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, addressed the crowd, thanking the community for their thoughts and prayers. Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam also spoke at the event, saying the community is strong and standing together. The event was sponsored by Womanspace at Virginia Tech and Take Back the Night, two organizations dedicated to student and citizen safety. Two Virginia Tech students have been charged in connection with Nicole’s death.
From Lynchburg Police: The Lynchburg Police Department is currently investigating multiple larcenies from vehicles and residences in and around the 3600-block of Old Forest Road. On January 25, 2016, at approximately 3:30 in the morning, a witness saw two suspicious individuals in the area who were entering unlocked vehicles and attempting to enter vehicles that were locked. After the witness called 9-1-1, a uniformed patrol officer was able to locate and approach one of the suspects in the same area as described by the witness. Upon approaching the suspect, later identified as 18-year old Steven James Locke Jr. of Lynchburg, he ran from the officer and was able to elude him through the heavy snowfall. During the chase, Locke dropped a backpack that contained several items of property that may belong to residents in the Old Forest Road or surrounding area. None of the property owners of the item in the backpack have been identified. After further interviews and investigation, detectives were able to charge Steven James Locke Jr. with petit larceny, attempted petit larceny, and tampering with an automobile. During the same investigation, detectives were also able to charge 18-year old Crystalyn Anne Downey of Lynchburg with two counts of tampering with an automobile and two counts of petit larceny. Additional arrests of other individuals are pending. Read the rest of this story »
Virginia’s 4 p.m. Burning Law goes into effect Feb. 15, 2016 – the start of spring fire season in the Commonwealth. This law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day (Feb. 15 – April 30) if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials. A violation of this law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. In addition to the criminal violation, those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property.
PULASKI, Va. (AP) _ The mother of a Virginia boy who died in a septic tank is in court for trial on abuse and neglect charges. The Pulaski County Circuit Court Clerk’s office says 31-year-old Ashley White’s trial started Monday. The jury trial is scheduled to take up to five days. White and 32-year-old Paul Thomas are accused of leaving their 5-year-old son, Noah Thomas, and infant daughter, Abigail, home alone on March 22 of last year. The boy’s body was found in a septic tank near the family’s home in Dublin four days later. The medical examiner determined that the boy drowned and that hypothermia contributed to his death.
A Forest couple has little left other than their lives after a fire last night destroyed their home. Crews were called out around 6:00 p.m. to the home on Declaration Terrace near Poplar Forest Golf Course. More than a dozen units responded, but they were unable to save the home. There are no injuries reported.
From the Forest Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page: Company 5 responded to a first due working house fire this evening. Company 1 (Bedford), Company 12 (Brookville-Timberlake), Medic 145, County 16, County 1, County 10, and Campbell County Rescue Squad were on scene as well. Fantastic work by all on an extremely advanced fire. Everyone was able to make it out of the structure safely.