The Virginia National Guard plans to have up to 800 personnel in place by Friday night to respond to storm-related events. Staging areas will be in Hampton Roads, central and southwest Virginia and in the Shenandoah Valley. Deputy director of joint operations Lt. Col. Douglas Gagnon says personnel must be in place before the severe weather hit to allow for a rapid response when needed. He says among the tasks the Guard is prepared to handle include tree and debris removal and transporting flood victims to safety. The Virginia National Guard was last on state active duty in February and March responding to heavy snow and flooding.
A Bedford County area woman is charged with fatally shooting her brother early today County, the apparent result of an lengthy late-night dispute in the Chamblissburg area. The Sheriff’s office says 54-year-old Vicki Clarke faces a second degree murder charge. Deputies say her brother, 55-year-old Paul Thomas was dead when they arrived around 2:00 am. The sheriff’s office says the victim had twice damaged Vicki Clarke’s private road in the hours immediately before, once in a car, the second time in a tractor.
(Continue reading for the full Bedford County Sheriff’s Office news release.)
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the entire region that will be in effect from Friday morning through Saturday evening. From the Weather Service: “Waves of Low Pressure along a stationary coastal front will combined with an upper level low pressure system to produce widespread heavy rain across the region from early Friday morning through Saturday night. Two to five inches of rain, with locally higher amounts along and on the east slopes of the Blue Ridge, are expected. This rain will be falling on soil that is completely saturated. This will lead to much of the rain running off into small streams and creek. Impact from the heavy rain would be rapid rises and flooding of small streams and creeks, flooding of underpasses and other poor drainage areas, and mudslides. A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation. You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should flash flood warnings be issued.
BEDFORD, Va. (AP) _ A convicted sex offender charged with murder in the disappearance of two sisters from a suburban Maryland mall in 1975 is set to make his initial appearance in a Virginia court. Lloyd Lee Michael Welch Jr. is scheduled to appear at a state court in Bedford on Thursday. Welch is charged in connection with the disappearance of 12-year-old Sheila Lyon and 10-year-old Katharine Lyon. The sisters were walking from their house to the Wheaton Plaza Mall. The girls never came home, and no bodies were found. Authorities say Welch was at the mall the day the girls vanished and was seen paying attention to them. Welch had been serving a lengthy prison term in Delaware, but officials said Wednesday that he’s been transferred to the Amherst County Adult Detention Center.
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) _ A former girlfriend of Jesse Matthew says that he was raped as a child and that it played a key role in allegations that he raped and killed multiple women. Matthew is awaiting trial in the killings of college students Hannah Graham and Morgan Harrington. Earlier this year, Matthew was convicted in Fairfax County of sexual assault for an attack on a woman in 2005. He will be sentenced Friday in that case and could get life in prison. In a letter to the judge made public Tuesday, the girlfriend, whose full name was not included in the letter, said Matthew was sexually abused by at least three different people. In another letter, Matthew’s mother begged for mercy and said her son “has always shown respect to everyone around him.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Twelve Virginia schools are being honored by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Each has been named a National Blue Ribbon school, signifying academic rigor and dramatic gains in student achievement. Seven public schools and five private schools are being recognized. The public schools are Central High School in Woodstock, Cosby High in Midlothian, Crystal Spring Elementary in Roanoke, Great Neck Middle School in Virginia Beach, Patrick Henry Elementary in Arlington, Riverheads High in Staunton and Snow Creek Elementary in Penhook. The private schools are Christ the King Catholic School in Norfolk, Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Our Lady of Hope Catholic School in Potomac Falls, St. Mark Catholic School in Vienna and Trinity Lutheran School in Newport News. They’ll be recognized at a ceremony in November in Washington, D.C.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s attorney general is launching an initiative across the state to train police officers how to use force appropriately, de-escalate dangerous situations and recognize potential biases they may bring to the job. At a press conference Tuesday in Arlington, Attorney General Mark Herring said he was motivated to act over the last year after rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore. He acknowledged that Virginia has had incidents of its own that have called into question whether police have used excessive force or might be targeting minorities. Herring says the training will not be mandatory, but will be made available to police agencies across the state. And he says local agencies are eager for the opportunity. The training will highlight bias awareness, professionalism, use of force, de-escalation and impartial policing.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ An aide to Virginia Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain says Obenshain will not be running for governor in 2017. Nick Collette, a political director for Obenshain, said Monday that his boss has made a decision not to run for statewide office in 2017. Obenshain narrowly lost the state attorney general election in 2013 and was widely viewed as a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate. Collette said Obenshain had made the decision not to run for personal reasons. Other potential GOP candidates for governor include former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
From the National Weather Service Offfice in Blacksburg: Flash Flood Watch in effect through Wednesday morning… The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a Flash Flood Watch for portions of North Carolina and Virginia…including the following in North …Carolina… Alleghany NC… Ashe… Caswell… Rockingham… Stokes… Surry… Watauga… Wilkes and Yadkin. In Virginia… Alleghany… Amherst… Bath… Bedford… Botetourt… Campbell… Carroll… Craig… Floyd… Franklin… Grayson… Halifax… Henry… Montgomery… Patrick… Pittsylvania… Pulaski… Roanoke… Rockbridge and Wythe. Numerous showers and isolated thunderstorms with moderate to heavy rain are expected today and tonight.
(Continue reading for the rest of the statement.)