RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia agriculture officials say they’re optimistic about this fall’s apple crop. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says this year’s crop is reading for picking and among the best the state has produced in years. The state’s growers have been harvesting apples since August, when the earliest varieties started ripening. Federal officials anticipate Virginia apple production to total 180 million pounds. Orchards will pick Virginia apples through November. Virginia is home to more than 150 commercial apple growers, as well as many pick-your-own farms that sell directly to the consumer.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Gov. Terry McAuliffe says tourism revenues increased more than 4 percent from 2013 to $22.4 billion last year. The governor said Monday that the tourism industry supported nearly 217,000 jobs and pumped more than $1.5 billion into the state and local economies in 2014. State and local revenues were up 5.6 percent from 2013. Officials say the travel industry was the fifth largest private employer in the state last year and made up 7 percent of Virginia’s total private employment. Domestic travelers spent $61 million a day in the state.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A nonprofit group says several of Virginia’s state House and Senate districts were unfairly gerrymandered for political reasons and should be redrawn. The group, OneVirginia2021, backed a lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of several Virginians in Richmond Circuit Court asking that 11 House and Senate districts be redrawn because they are not compact, which state law requires. The districts are currently held by both Republicans and Democrats. The lawsuit is separate from two federal lawsuits filed by Democrats that allege the General Assembly illegally packed black voters into a congressional district and 12 state House districts when it redrew boundaries in 2011. State Republicans have defended the current boundaries as legal and appropriate.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ AAA says the summer driving season has ended with the lowest national average gas prices for the Labor Day holiday in more than a decade. The auto club says the national average gas price was $2.34 per gallon for unleaded on Sunday. The statewide Virgina average price was just under $2.08 a gallon, and the Roanoke-Lynchburg region’s average was $2.01. Gas prices have been lower throughout the summer season compared with last year. AAA says motorists are now paying more than $1 less per gallon for gas compared to the same time last year. Drivers are saving about 6 cents per gallon compared to one week ago and 28 cents compared to a month ago.
MONETA, Va. (AP) _ Police say two people were taken to hospitals after a single-engine Cessna crashed and caught fire in Moneta. State Police Sgt. Richard C. Garletts says the plane crashed Sunday afternoon about a quarter-mile from the Smith Mountain Lake Airport. Two people were airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. One of them was later flown to Wake Forest for burn treatment. Their names were not immediately released. The pilot sheared the tops off a few trees but was able to avoid power lines and structures in a lakeside subdivision. Airport manager Mike Matt said the pilot was trying to land when the crash occurred. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified.
From the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office: At 1:06 a.m. this morning, Friday September 11, Bedford County 911 dispatchers received a call from Sheetz, 12259 East Lynchburg Salem Turnpike, reporting an armed robbery of the business. Caller advised that two male subjects had entered the store wearing masks and gloves displaying hand guns demanding money. After getting an undetermined amount of money the suspects left the store of foot. Bedford County deputies arrived on the scene two minutes later and were unable to locate the suspect either suspect. Suspect #1 was wearing a black hoodie, black gloves and black jeans. Suspect #2 was wearing a black hoodie, black gloves and blue jeans. No one was injured during the robbery. Anyone with information on this crime should contact the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office at 586-7827 or Central Virginia Crime Stoppers at 1-888-798-5900. Crime Stopper callers remain anonymous and could receive a cash reward up to $1,000.00 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect(s).
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The father of Virginia shooting victim Alison Parker is urging lawmakers to defy the powerful gun lobby and pass legislation to strengthen background checks for gun purchasers. Andy Parker told a Capitol Hill rally that “we can, we must, and we will” prevail over opponents of new background check legislation, such as the National Rifle Association. Parker’s daughter and WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward were ambushed and fatally shot during a live television interview last month at a community outside Roanoke. Parker was joined at the rally by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the state’s two senators. They urged Congress to revisit a failed 2013 vote on legislation requiring background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Two Republican lawmakers say they will hold a hearing in the near future on why the public can’t see a report by the Virginia State Police into the bloody arrest of a University of Virginia student by state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents. Sen. Frank Watkins and Del. Todd Gilbert announced Wednesday their plans for a joint hearing. Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered the review after Alcoholic Beverage Control agents arrested Martese Johnson outside a Charlottesville pub in March. Photos and video of the bloodied 20-year-old were circulated widely on social media. McAuliffe’s administration said personnel rules prohibit the disclosure of the report. A prosecutor said a separate criminal investigation found no evidence of malice by the officers, who weren’t charged. Charges against Johnson were dismissed.