WLNI-FM Lynchburg News and Information https://wlni.com News Talk Radio Wed, 27 May 2020 20:29:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.1 https://wlni.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/cropped-Untitled-2-32x32.png WLNI-FM Lynchburg News and Information https://wlni.com 32 32 Liberty president suggests design for Northam blackface face mask https://wlni.com/news/liberty-president-designs-northam-blackface-face-mask Wed, 27 May 2020 18:06:29 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37367

Image; @JerryFalwellJr

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Junior has repeatedly criticized Governor Ralph Northam’s actions that required the school to close all in-person instruction after Spring Break in March. Today, Falwell combined that with his disapproval of Northam’s recently-announced mandate to wear face masks in indoor public areas with a face mask he says is of his own design. On his Twitter account, Falwell shows a mask with Northam’s controversial medical school yearbook blackface photo on it. Falwell writes in his tweet: “I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!”

Northam Spokesperson Alena Yarmosky says “The Office of the Governor will not dignify that tweet with a response.”

Northam: More Virginia ocean beaches will reopen https://wlni.com/news/northam-more-virginia-ocean-beaches-will-reopen Wed, 27 May 2020 16:33:18 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37362

(Kaitlin McKeown/The Daily Press via AP)

More of the commonwealth’s oceanside beaches are likely to re-open soon, based in large part on what happened over the holiday weekend in Virginia Beach. Governor Northam says while Virginia Beach was busy, most people were adhering to his social distancing directive,and he he didn’t see anything that would lead him to consider reclosing the beach. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more:

05-27 Virginia Beaches Wrap-WLNI WEB

10 new COVID cases reported in region, 5 of them in one county https://wlni.com/news/10-new-covid-cases-reported-in-region-5-of-them-in-one-county Wed, 27 May 2020 13:42:42 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37360 The Virginia Department of Health reports 10 more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in the Lynchburg region. Five of those new cases come from Appomattox County. The late numbers show 80 cases in Lynchburg since the virus first arrived, 27 in Amherst County, 31 in Appomattox, 45 in Bedford and 16 in Campbell. COVID-related deaths in the region are set at 16; that is less than 1% of all reported cases.

Tackling the challenges of summer https://wlni.com/news/tackling-the-challenges-of-summer Wed, 27 May 2020 13:10:09 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37357 Better Business BureauJulie Wheeler from the BBB of Western Virginia shares tips on planning a remodel, hiring a contractor and what you should know before you pack up to move.

Julie Wheeler (052720)

Northam orders mask use in stores, other public spaces https://wlni.com/news/northam-orders-mask-use-in-stores-other-public-spaces Tue, 26 May 2020 19:56:42 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37352 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam is ordering that Virginians wear masks while in public indoor spaces, saying the measure is needed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Northam said at a news conference Tuesday that he’s ordering masks be worn starting Friday inside all retail stores, while using public transportation, and in any other indoor places where people congregate.

“This is about protecting those around us, especially our workers,” Northam said. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more:

05-27 Face Coverings Wrap-WLNI WEB

Northam joins governors in several other states, including neighboring Maryland, who have issued similar requirements.

“This is not about punishing people,” Northam said. “That’s not what we’re going to do here. We’re trying to promote safety.”

But Republican lawmakers decried the order, saying it places unfair mandates on business owners. Senate Republicans issued a statement saying Northam’s mask order should instead be a voluntary recommendation.

“Virginians are responsible and sufficiently informed to make these determinations for themselves without coercive threats from their leaders,” the statement said.

Prior to the governor’s announcement, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police said law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to place officers at the entrance to every business to enforce the mandatory mask order.

Executive Director Dana Schrad said in a letter to the governor it will be largely up to the business and its untrained employees to confront someone who isn’t wearing a mask, potentially leading to violence. She cited a case in Michigan, where three people were charged earlier this month in the fatal shooting of a security guard after a confrontation over a woman who was not wearing a face mask in a Family Dollar store.

The governor’s mask-wearing order exempts people who are eating and drinking, children under the age of 10, and people with health conditions that make wearing a mask dangerous.

Northam also addressed criticism he’s taken for not wearing a mask while posing for photographs alongside residents during a weekend beach visit. The governor said he was visiting Virginia Beach to see how its reopening was going and left his mask in his vehicle because he wasn’t planning on posing for pictures. He pledged to be better prepared in the future and said he appreciated being held accountable.

Northam explains lack of face mask while ordering statewide use https://wlni.com/news/northam-explains-lack-of-face-mask-while-ordering-statewide-use Tue, 26 May 2020 18:59:22 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37347 Governor Northam says he takes full responsibility for not wearing a face mask over the weekend while visiting Virginia Beach. Northam said at today’s briefing he was not planning to meet with well-wishers as he arrived to monitor social distancing and meeting reporters, and he left his mask in the car – something he promises not to do again.

05-26 Northam Bit-WEB

Northam’s comments came shortly before directing all Virginians to wear face masks anywhere where people congregate indoors as of this Friday. There are some limited exceptions: eating, exercising, any overriding health condition and children under the age of 10. Northam says the masks are proving to be one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 from person to person.

DMV reopens Lynchburg office; more to follow through July https://wlni.com/news/dmv-reopens-lynchburg-office-more-to-follow-through-july Tue, 26 May 2020 16:30:12 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37344 The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles reopened five more customer service centers today – including Lynchburg. This comes eight days after it reopened the first nine offices, including the one in Roanoke. The DMV plans to have all up and running again by late July, but for now, it is by appointment only and for a limited number of transactions that are usually not possible on line or by mail. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more:

05-26 DMV Reopening Wrap-WLNI

Welcome to Brian Kilmeade Tuesday on the Morning Line https://wlni.com/news/welcome-to-brian-kilmeade-tuesday-on-the-morning-line Tue, 26 May 2020 14:30:46 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37341

Photo; Brian Kilmeade Twitter

Brian Kilmeade from the Brian Kilmeade Radio Show and Fox and Friends talks about Memorial Day Weekend and social distancing in our state and others.

Brian Kilmeade (052620)

The latest Lynchburg-area COVID numbers https://wlni.com/news/the-latest-lynchburg-area-covid-numbers Tue, 26 May 2020 13:43:28 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37339 The number of new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases has increased by 11 in the Lynchburg region over the last five days, bringing the total to 189. The Virginia Department of Health now shows 79 cases in Lynchburg, 26 in both Amherst and Appomattox Counties, 43 in Bedford County and 15 in Campbell County.

How do you plan summer travel when restrictions vary so much? https://wlni.com/news/summer-travel-may-be-tricky-because-re-openings-vary-so-much Tue, 26 May 2020 11:30:06 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37332 Even with low gas prices, it is unclear when and to what extent more Americans are likely to venture out for summer travel. AAA Mid-Atlantic reports seeing a small rise in travel bookings in the last month or so, mostly within the U.S., but making plans may be tricky because restrictions vary so much between states – and sometimes within them. WLNI’s Evan Jones has the story:

05-26 Summer Travel Wrap-WLNI WEB

Gas prices are the lowest this time of year since 2003 https://wlni.com/news/gas-prices-are-the-lowest-this-time-of-year-since-2003 Mon, 25 May 2020 17:05:05 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37325


Gas prices have proved to as unpredictable as just about everything else in this COVID-19 era. The question now is where to prices – and traffic – go through the summer travel season. Gas Buddy says Memorial Day prices are the lowest at this time of year since 2003, and they are likely to slowly rise between now and Labor Day. More from WLNI’s Evan Jones:

05-25 Gas Prices Wrap-WLNI WEB

One new COVID-19 case reported in Lynchburg region https://wlni.com/news/one-new-covid-19-case-reported-in-lynchburg-region Mon, 25 May 2020 13:33:17 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37330 According to data released by the Virginia Department of Health this morning, there are 1,483 new cases of coronavirus statewide bringing the overall total to 37,727. State Health officials are also reporting 37 new coronavirus related deaths, bring total number of dead in the Commonwealth to 1,208. There is one new case in Amherst County bringing the overall total there to 26.

D-Day Memorial goes virtual in honoring America’s fallen https://wlni.com/news/d-day-memorial-goes-virtual-in-honoring-americas-fallen Mon, 25 May 2020 11:30:26 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37297 This is Memorial Day, the day  America honors and remembers the men and women who have died in service to our country, and while its meaning is no different than in any other year, the way it is observed will often be quite different. That is certainly the case at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford; in the COVID-19 era with health concerns and mandatory limits on gathering sizes, the memorial is holding a virtual observance today in place of its usual live one. More from WLNI’s Evan Jones.

05-25 D-Day Memorial Wrap-WLNI WEB

Critics castigate Northam for mask-less beach visit https://wlni.com/news/critics-chide-virginia-governor-for-mask-less-beach-visit Sun, 24 May 2020 21:51:11 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37320 VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Gov. Ralph Northam has repeatedly urged Virginia residents to cover their faces in public during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Democrat didn’t heed his own plea when he posed mask-less for photographs alongside residents during a weekend beach visit.

A spokeswoman for the governor’s office said Sunday that Northam should have brought a face mask with him during his visit on Saturday to the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, news outlets reported.

“He was outside yesterday and not expecting to be within six feet of anyone,” Northam spokesman Alena Yarmosky said in a statement. “This is an important reminder to always have face coverings in case situations change — we are all learning how to operate in this new normal, and it’s important to be prepared.”

“Wearing a mask could literally save someone else’s life,” he said last week, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Critics on social media chided Northam, a physician, for not practicing what he has preached.

“Physician, heal thyself,” tweeted Todd Gilbert, a Republican who is Virginia’s House Minority Leader.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that Northam posed for a selfie with a woman who said she knows the governor. She gave him a pat on the shoulder.

“We just have to continue to remind people that we want to keep the social distance of 6 feet apart,” he said, when asked about the touch later. “That’s a challenge for a lot of folks because they’re just not used to doing that.”

Virginia has more than 34,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,135 confirmed deaths as of Sunday, according to the state health department.

White House goal on testing nursing homes unmet https://wlni.com/news/white-house-goal-on-testing-nursing-homes-unmet Sun, 24 May 2020 18:30:47 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37318 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Nearly two weeks ago the White House urged governors to ensure that every nursing home resident and staff member be tested for the coronavirus within 14 days.

It’s not going to happen.

A review by The Associated Press found that at least half of the states are not going to meet White House’s deadline and some aren’t even bothering to try.

Only a handful of states, including West Virginia and Rhode Island, have said they’ve already tested every nursing home resident.

Many states said the logistics, costs and manpower needs are too great to test all residents and staff in a two-week window. Some say they need another week or so, while others say they need much more time. California, the most populous state, said it is still working to release a plan that would ensure testing capacity for all residents and staff at skilled nursing facilities statewide.

And still other states are questioning whether testing every nursing home resident and staff, regardless of any other factors, is a good use of time and money.

“At this time it would be fairly useless to do that,” said Nebraska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gary Anthone, adding that the state would have to repeat the tests almost daily to get more than a snapshot in time, and the state doesn’t have the capacity when there are others who need to be tested.

Anthone said the state was going to stick with the CDC’s guidelines, which call for testing individually when nursing home residents show symptoms or collectively if there is a new confirmed case of COVID-19 in a home.

The varying responses by states to nursing home testing is another example of the country’s patchwork response to the pandemic that also underscores the Trump administration’s limited influence. The president has preferred to offload key responsibilities and decisions to states and governors, despite calls for a coordinated national response.

“All of this is probably not as well thought out as it could have been.” said Dr. Jim Wright, the medical director at a Virginia nursing home where dozens of residents have died. “It sounds more like an impulsive type of directive rather than one that has been completely vetted by providers on the ground.”

On May 11, Trump heralded his administration’s efforts to boost coronavirus testing and said the U.S. had developed the “most advanced robust testing system in the world, by far.” That same day, Vice President Mike Pence hosted a private conference call with the state’s governors, where White House adviser Dr. Deborah Birx requested that each state target nursing homes to help lower the virus’ death toll.

“Start now,” Pence added, according to a recording of the call obtained by the AP.

Trump said later that day at a news conference that he was thinking of making it a mandatory requirement.

“I think it’s very important to do and I think, frankly, some of the governors were very lax with respect to nursing homes,” Trump said.

Birx acknowledged Friday that the two-week recommendation was a challenge but said it was needed because of the particular vulnerability of nursing homes.

“We should never be discouraged by those who can’t get it done,” she said. “We should be encouraged by those who have shown us that it can be done.”

Nursing homes residents, who are typically older and often have underlying medical conditions, have been particularly hard hit by the virus. More than 36,000 residents and staff have died from outbreaks at the nation’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to an AP tally. . That is more than a third of all deaths in the U.S. that have been attributed to the virus.

Nursing home operators have said the lack of testing kits and other resources have left them nearly powerless to stop the virus from entering their facilities because they haven’t been able to identity silent spreaders not showing symptoms.

The American Health Care Association, the main nursing home trade group, said more than half of its members said they were unable to test all residents and staff within two weeks because of a lack of access to testing. The group also estimates that testing every nursing home resident and staff member would involving testing nearly 3 million people at a cost of $440 million.

Even with the tests, nursing homes struggle to find people to administer them and carve out enough time to perform them.

New York, the nation’s leader in nursing home deaths, said this past week it has sent out enough kits to all nursing homes to test every resident though it remains unclear whether they will be done by the deadline.

Delaware Gov. John Carney announced a plan May 5 for universal testing of all residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but the testing program is voluntary. On Friday, the state said three-quarters of long-term care facilities had requested testing kits, and that weekly testing of staff would be mandatory starting in June.

Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said meeting the White House’s recommendation would mean testing 50,000 people in two weeks when it took three months for the state to test 150,000 people.

“It’s just not possible,” he said.

Police investigating malicious wounding that sent one to hospital https://wlni.com/news/police-investigating-malicious-wounding-that-sent-one-to-hospital Sun, 24 May 2020 12:38:25 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37316 From Lynchburg Police: The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating a malicious wounding that occurred this afternoon.

On May 23, 2020 before 4:00 p.m., a juvenile male arrived at Lynchburg General Hospital with a gunshot wound that he reportedly received on D Street near Norwood Street. The gunshot wound is considered non-life threatening at this time. The LPD has not responded to any shots fired calls this afternoon.

This is an ongoing investigation. Any additional information will be released as an update to this news release.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Det. S. Bond at (434) 455-6161 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 798-5900. Enter a tip online at http://p3tips.com or use the P3 app on a mobile device.

Ex-prosecutor could be disciplined for handling of plea deal https://wlni.com/news/crime-and-public-safety/ex-prosecutor-could-be-disciplined-for-handling-of-plea-deal Sat, 23 May 2020 20:45:36 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37312 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A former Virginia prosecutor faces a disciplinary hearing over his handling of a plea agreement in a fatal boat crash.

Jan Smith, who was Lancaster County’s top prosecutor, had negotiated an agreement for John Randolph Hooper to serve one year in jail after pleading guilty in the August 2017 death of 31-year-old Graham McCormick.

A Virginia State Bar subcommittee concluded Smith violated rules of professional conduct when he discussed the deal with McCormick’s family and “wrongfully and inaccurately” suggested that the judge overseeing the case had prejudged it, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. McCormick’s family believed the deal was too lenient.

The subcommittee said Smith violated rules against knowingly making a false statement of fact or law. A disciplinary hearing has not been scheduled yet. Smith could face suspension or revocation of his law license if the charges are proved.

Smith lost a November election after one term as the county’s top prosecutor. He has 21 days to respond to the subcommittee’s findings.

McCormick’s body was found floating in a creek off the Rappahannock River. The state medical examiner concluded that McCormick’s death was caused by drowning and that blunt-force trauma was a contributing factor.

McCormick and Hooper, a college friend, were intoxicated when they went for a ride in a boat that crashed into a bulkhead, according to evidence provided during a plea hearing. Hooper, 34, of Richmond, was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to render aid.

Virginia unemployment rate in double digits due to pandemic https://wlni.com/news/virginia-unemployment-rate-in-double-digits-due-to-pandemic Sat, 23 May 2020 12:30:03 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37309 RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s unemployment rate shot up into the double digits in April due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it, the Virginia Employment Commission said Friday.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 10.6% in April from 3.3% the month before, according to the commission. Virginia’s rate was lower than the national rate of 14.7% during a month in which the the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said all 50 states and the District of Columbia saw increases.

In April, all 10 metropolitan areas of Virginia for which data is produced experienced over-the-month job losses, according to VEC, and employment fell in all major industry sectors. Losses were particularly heavy in the leisure and hospitality industries, which saw a decline of 161,400 jobs.

In all, private sector employment decreased by 351,900 jobs while public sector payrolls decreased by 31,500 jobs, the VEC said.

Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference Friday that the dramatic increase had been expected, noting the more than 700,000 Virginians who have filed for unemployment benefits since widespread business closures went into effect in mid-March.

Northam also acknowledged reports of Virginians having trouble getting their unemployment benefits and said the state was opening a new call center with 315 additional employees to assist.

The unemployment data was released as much of the state was a week into a gradual reopening process. Certain businesses began reopening or expanding their capacity last Friday under modified restrictions set in place by the governor.

Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County on the Eastern Shore were all granted two-week delays after elected leaders there expressed concern it was too early to reopen.

Northam said Friday that he would have more to share next week about additional steps to reopen.

The Virginia Department of Health on Friday reported nearly 35,000 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and over 1,100 deaths. Both totals are likely an undercount due to a lack of widespread testing, and the likelihood that many people without symptoms could be spreading the highly contagious virus.

Millions around the world have been infected.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up within weeks. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death. The majority of people recover.

VA Senator calls for more resources to help state and local governments https://wlni.com/news/va-senator-calls-for-more-resources-to-help-state-and-local-governments Fri, 22 May 2020 19:30:21 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37285 One of Virginia’s Democratic US Senators says it is time to provide financial relief to state and local governments as they deal with the fallout from the pandemic. WLNI’s Clark Palmer has that story.

5-22 Kaine Gov Wrap WLNI-WEB

Percival’s Trail closed over high water concerns https://wlni.com/news/percivals-trail-closed-over-high-water-concerns Fri, 22 May 2020 15:41:35 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37295 The City of Lynchburg has closed the Percival’s Island urban trail and the beach because of a safety concern with the rising James River due to the recent excessive rainfall. Both will remain closed until further notice. The Department of Parks and Recreation is also recommending people exercise caution while using other urban trails throughout the city as creeks may also be overflowing their banks.

The City is also cautioning people who may want to use the river this weekend for recreation that the water is fast moving and can be extremely dangerous. This condition is expected to remain treacherous over the next several days. Please exercise extreme caution.

More National Forest recreation sites to open in coming week https://wlni.com/news/more-national-forest-recreation-sites-to-open-in-coming-week Fri, 22 May 2020 15:15:12 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37292 NEWS RELEASE: Roanoke, VA. (May 22, 2020) – George Washington and Jefferson National Forests officials will reopen many recreation sites for day use beginning the weekend of May 23, 2020. The decision to reopen recreation areas is being done on a case-by-case basis. All openings will consider health and safety recommendations, employee safety and the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and trained personnel, as reflected in CDC, state and local guidance. Site closures and modified operations may occur, as needed, to protect public health and safety. Presently, the schedule for reopening recreation sites is as follows:

  • May 22: All trailheads providing access to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail will reopen, except for Dragon’s Tooth and Spy Rock trailheads.
  • May 23: All shooting ranges will reopen. Crabtree Falls, Cascades, Pandapas Pond, and Roaring Run day use areas will reopen.
  • May 26: South Pedlar ATV Trail System will reopen.
  • May 28: Additional recreation sites will reopen, including Peters Mills Run/Taskers Gap ATV/OHV Trail System; please check our website for specifics.

Campgrounds, and most facilities and day-use areas within campgrounds, will remain closed pending further evaluation. In certain areas, flooding and rainfall impacts may delay opening.

All restrooms will remain shut down. Visitors are responsible for providing their own PPE (including hand sanitizer), and must pack out what they pack in as trash service may not be available. In order to minimize environmental impacts, visitors are encouraged to practice the Leave No Trace principles found at lnt.org.

“We know the importance of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to communities and we want people to use and enjoy the forests again,” says Job Timm, George Washington and Jefferson Forests Supervisor. “We are working on phased plans to reopen sites and facilities, but protecting our visitors and employees remains our highest priority. And while we understand there may be some excitement from the public to return to beloved recreation areas, please respect site closures and continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines on staying safe.”

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation. Remember to avoid congregating at trailheads and/or parking areas and refrain from gathering in groups of 10 or more. Visitors should be prepared to change plans if high visitor use prevents social distancing. Please review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with local and state guidelines for social distancing and cloth face coverings.

For a complete list of recreation sites and their status, please visit fs.usda.gov/recmain/gwj/recreation.

2020 Franklin County Agricultural Fair falls victim to COVID concerns https://wlni.com/news/2020-franklin-county-agricultural-fair-falls-victim-to-covid-concerns Fri, 22 May 2020 14:41:16 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37289 Another annual event has fallen victim to COVID-19 safety and health concerns. This year’s Franklin County Agricultural Fair has been cancelled. Plans call for it to return in September of next year.

NEWS RELEASE: After careful review and consideration, a decision has been made to cancel the 2020 Franklin County Agricultural Fair due to safety and health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being the sixth annual hosting for the event, following a 40-year hiatus, it was not an easy decision to make.  A number of community organizations, individuals and sponsors have worked long and hard to get us this far,” noted David Rotenizer, chairman of the event and county director of tourism.

“With so much uncertainty regarding public health and safety for large group gatherings, along with logistics for maintaining social distancing and sanitation, this was an unfortunate but required action.”

It is anticipated the Franklin County Agricultural Fair will be resume September 15-18, 2021.  The public is encouraged to follow the fair’s Facebook Page @FCAgFair and website FCAgFair.com

For additional questions or concerns, please contact David Rotenizer at (540) 483-3030 or David.Rotenizer@FranklinCountyVA.gov.

Peaks of Otter, Sharp Top parking areas reopen Saturday https://wlni.com/news/peaks-of-otter-sharp-top-parking-areas-reopen-saturday Fri, 22 May 2020 13:54:48 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37283

(Public domain photo)

The Blue Ridge Parkway is reopening the parking areas tomorrow at the Peaks of Otter and the near Sharp Top access. But  facilities like campgrounds, picnic areas rest rooms and visitors centers remain closed along the entire parkway.

NEWS RELEASE: [Montebello, VA]  Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Blue Ridge Parkway is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

On Saturday, May 23, 2020, the Parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access to the northernmost 13 miles of the park, from Milepost 0 – 13, in coordination with the Shenandoah National Park planned reopening. In addition, the parking areas at Milepost 85.9 (Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and Sharp Top Parking Areas) and Milepost 92.5 (Sharp Top Parking Widening) will reopen.

With public health in mind, seasonal visitor service facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and visitor centers remain closed at this time.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At the Blue Ridge Parkway, the operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park management will continue to monitor all functions to ensure visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the Parkway’s website and social media channels.

Pomp and Circumstance is no longer missing in Amherst Co. https://wlni.com/news/pomp-and-circumstance-is-no-longer-missing-in-amherst-co Fri, 22 May 2020 13:09:15 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37280 Rob Arnold, Superintendent of Amherst County Schools and Amherst County H.S. Principal, Dr. Derrick Brown discuss Saturday’s “Commencement in Cars” and the upcoming school year.

Commencement in Cars (052220)

Wanted: 1,300 Virginia COVID-fighting contact tracers https://wlni.com/news/wanted-1300-virginia-covid-fighting-contact-tracers Fri, 22 May 2020 11:30:48 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37276 The Virginia Department of Health says one of the most important ways to fight a greater spread of COVID-19 is through contact tracing, and they’re looking for a lot of people to get the job done — close to 13-hundred new positions statewide. Officials say  contact tracing is already a common practice to help combat other diseases, but this one is a really big job. WLNI’s Evan Jones has more:

05-22 Contact Tracing Wrap-WLNI WEB


Smith Mountain Lake to rise 3 feet above full pond https://wlni.com/news/smith-mountain-lake-to-rise-3-feet-above-full-pond Thu, 21 May 2020 19:10:22 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37274 NEWS RELEASE: ROANOKE, Va., May 21, 2020 – Appalachian Power, operator of the Smith Mountain Project hydroelectric facility in southwest Virginia, is advising property owners and visitors that the Smith Mountain Reservoir will exceed its full pond level by three feet Friday morning.

Normal full pond level at Smith Mountain Lake is 795 feet. The project’s lower reservoir, Leesville Lake, has a full pond level of 613 feet.

Based on updated river predictions from the National Weather Service and continued rainfall, Smith Mountain reservoir will reach an elevation of 798 feet, or three feet above full pond. Allowing the reservoir to exceed full pond will assist in preventing additional flooding downstream.

The new anticipated pond level is typically one foot above the height of a stationary dock. Property owners are encouraged to remove unsecured items from the lower levels of their docks and relocate any items along the shoreline. Shoreline property owners should also secure water craft and floating docks and take caution when walking on docks.

Current lake levels and inflow/discharge information is available anytime at www.aep.com/recreation/hydro. The project website is www.SmithMountainProject.com

Smith Mountain Project is a 636-megawatt pumped storage hydroelectric facility on the Roanoke River that utilizes an upper reservoir (Smith Mountain Lake) and a lower reservoir (Leesville Lake). Combined, the project includes about 600 miles of shoreline. Water stored in Smith Mountain Lake first passes through turbine-generators in the powerhouse to produce electricity and is discharged into Leesville Lake. From there some water is released through the Leesville Dam or pumped back into Smith Mountain. The project is operated by Appalachian Power.

One new COVID-19 case reported in region in last two days https://wlni.com/news/one-new-covid-19-case-reported-in-region-in-last-two-days Thu, 21 May 2020 16:57:47 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37272 The Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 numbers reported over the past two days show just a single new case in the Lynchburg region. That one case is in Appomattox County, now reporting 25. But the numbers in Lynchburg and Amherst, Bedford and Campbell counties have not changed in the last two days; Lynchburg reports 75, Bedford has 41, and 13 are reported in Amherst.

Republicans are serious about November https://wlni.com/news/republicans-are-serious-about-november Thu, 21 May 2020 13:10:22 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37269

Gade For Virginia website

Candidate for U.S. Senate, Daniel Gade, talks about the campaign and Town Hall’s that have kept him going leading up to the June 23rd Primary.

Daniel Gade interview (052120)

Five hospitalized after Wards Ferry Road collision https://wlni.com/news/five-hospitalized-after-wards-ferry-road-collision Wed, 20 May 2020 18:37:49 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37266

NEWS RELEASE: LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Lynchburg Police Department is investigating after a crash on Wards Ferry Road this afternoon that sent five people to the hospital.

On May 20, 2020 at 12:01 p.m., officers responded to the 1900-block of Wards Ferry Road for a report of a motor vehicle crash involving two vehicles.

When officers arrived, they located the vehicles and the Lynchburg Fire Department extricated individuals from one vehicle. As a result of the crash, two individuals were taken to Lynchburg General Hospital with serious injuries and three individuals were taken to Lynchburg General Hospital with minor injuries.

This is an ongoing investigation. Any additional information will be released as an update to this news release.

Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Officer N. Hertzog at (434) 455-6047.
New pandemic relief bill passed by House called “liberal wish list” https://wlni.com/news/new-pandemic-relief-bill-passed-by-house-called-liberal-wish-list Wed, 20 May 2020 17:01:59 +0000 https://wlni.com/?p=37262 The latest pandemic relief bill that’s heading to the Senate is being called a “grab bag of liberal priorities that Democrats are trying to sneak through.” WLNI’s Ian Price has more: