Virginia sending National Guard troops to US Virgin Islands

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s governor has authorized the National Guard to send 120 soldiers to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help in hurricane recovery efforts. Hurricane Maria caused widespread devastation across the island this week. Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Friday that the soldiers are assigned to the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He says they will arrive next week and be deployed on the ground by the governor of the Virgin Islands. The U.S. Virgin Islands are reeling after back-to-back hurricanes. President Donald Trump said Friday that the islands were “flattened.”

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Lloyd Welch, Jr. pleads guilty to sex assaults of two more girls

Lloyd Welch, Jr.

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) _ A convicted sex offender who was sentenced last week to 48 years in in the 1975 killings of two young Maryland sisters has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two other girls in northern Virginia in 1996. Lloyd Lee Welch Jr. entered his guilty pleas Thursday in Prince William Circuit Court as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors to resolve the 1996 cases as well as the 1975 slayings of 10-year-old Katherine and 12-year-old Sheila Lyon. In court Thursday, both victims in the 1996 assaults told Welch the attacks traumatized them. One victim told him she became “destructive and self-hating,” but eventually turned her life around. She told Welch: “Checkmate, I win!” Welch apologized before he was sentenced to 12 years.

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McAuliffe hires private consultant to try to lure Amazon

(AP photo)

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says he’s hired a private consultant to help in trying to get Amazon to build its second headquarters in the state. The Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday that Richmond, northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will craft pitches to the company. The state will submit a proposal offering Amazon its pick. Speaking at an elementary school in Norfolk, McAuliffe said Virginia is a legitimate contender. He cited the state’s central location on the East Coast as one of several advantages. Seattle-based Amazon announced nearly two weeks ago its plans to build a second headquarters. The site would employ 50,000 people. Proposals are due by Oct. 19. McAuliffe said the second headquarters will be “a game-changer for whoever gets it.”

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Charlottesville erects fencing around Confederate statues in hopes of deterring removal of tarps covering them

(AP photo)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Officials in Charlottesville, Virginia, are trying to stop people from ripping down tarps that cover statues of Confederate generals. The Daily Progress reported Tuesday that the city has placed plastic fencing around the monuments to Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The tarps have been ripped down six times. The coverings are a gesture of mourning for Heather Heyer. She was killed Aug. 12 when a car plowed into a group of people protesting the Unite the Right rally. NBC 29 reported Monday that rally organizer Jason Kessler led a group to remove tarps from both statues. Charlottesville Commonwealth’s Attorney Dave Chapman said it’s not a crime to remove the shrouds. But he said the fencing will allow authorities to file trespassing charges against anyone who goes beyond them.

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DMV faces $16 million shortfall, fees could rise

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles is facing an estimated operating shortfall of more than $16 million. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that Virginians could see an increase in fees as a result.  DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb told the House Appropriations Committee that one solution is to raise prices on vehicle titles, registration and driver’s licenses. Another idea is to allow the DMV to keep more of the money it collects for the departments of transportation and health. Holcomb also told the commission that the DMV lacks sufficient funds to operate even though it collects billions of dollars for the state. The DMV is a high-profile customer-service agency with wide-ranging responsibilities. They include the impending implementation of the federal Real ID law for enhanced security of driver’s licenses and other identification.

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Anthem plans to reenter Virginia insurance market

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginians are no longer at risk of not being able to buy health insurance on their own and not through an employer next year. Health insurer Anthem announced Friday that it is reversing a decision to pull out of federal health law’s insurance marketplace and offer plans in 68 cities and counties. Anthem said it made the decision after another health insurer announced earlier this month it was pulling back out of some Virginia markets next year, leaving about 60,000 residents of several counties and cities in Virginia with the prospect of not having any plans to buy next year.

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FEMA estimate: one-fourth of Keys homes could be destroyed

(AP photo)

KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the Florida Keys’ farthest reaches Tuesday, while crews labored to repair the single washed-out highway connecting the islands and rush aid to Hurricane Irma’s victims. Federal officials estimated one-quarter of all homes in the Keys were destroyed. Two days after Irma roared into the island chain with 130 mph winds, residents were allowed to return to the parts of the Keys closest to Florida’s mainland. But the full extent of the death and destruction there remained a question mark because communications and access were cut off in places. “It’s going to be pretty hard for those coming home,” said Petrona Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. “It’s going to be devastating to them.” Elsewhere in Florida, life inched closer to normal, with some flights again taking off, many curfews lifted and major theme parks reopening. Cruise ships that extended their voyages and rode out the storm at sea began returning to port with thousands of passengers.

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McAuliffe declares state of emergency in advance of Hurricane Irma

Gov. Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in Virginia so officials can better prepare for Hurricane Irma and help other impacted states.
The governor’s office said in a statement that the order issued Friday allows the state to mobilize resources including the Virginia National Guard. It also
allows people and equipment to be staged to assist in storm response and recovery efforts. The statement says that while the track of Hurricane Irma is still uncertain, it appears increasingly likely that Virginia will see “significant” impacts. It says the whole state should prepare for possible flooding, high winds and storm surge. The governor is also urging coastal residents to know what hurricane evacuation zone they live in under the state’s new plan unveiled earlier this year. A lookup tool is available online .

(Continue reading for Governor McAuliffe’s full news release.)

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NTSB: no evidence police helicopter struck by animal, object

Lt. Jay Cullen/Trooper Berke Bates

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A new report says there’s no sign a Virginia State Police helicopter that crashed after monitoring violent clashes in Charlottesville last month was struck by another aircraft, animal or object. The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report Tuesday into the Aug. 12 crash that killed two state troopers, the pilot and an observer. The report said the helicopter went into a nose-down spin prior to the crash. The helicopter was providing a video feed of a violent white nationalist rally when it broke off to watch over Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s motorcade. It crashed on the outskirts of Charlottesville, leaving a debris field several hundred feet long. The report does not say what likely caused the crashed and the NTSB’s investigation is ongoing.

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UVA to pay for review, make security changes after march

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ The University of Virginia has hired a consulting firm to evaluate its safety infrastructure following a torch-lit march of white nationalists on campus. The Daily Progress reports that the university will pay Margolis, Healy & Associates around $250,000 to conduct the review. Spokesman Anthony de Bruyn says the university is prepared to “make additional investments in staffing and infrastructure” based on the firm’s recommendations. The review comes after the white nationalists marched through the university grounds on Aug. 11, the night before a larger rally in downtown Charlottesville. The university is also making other public safety changes. President Teresa Sullivan says there will be more security at major events, including athletics, and the university will deploy more unarmed public safety personnel to patrol the Lawn and residential areas.

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