Saturday, July 11, 2020
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Latest Virginia news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. EDT



Leader of scheme that caused bank collapse set for release

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Court documents indicate the leader of a massive fraud scheme that contributed to the collapse of Bank of the Commonwealth nearly a decade ago will soon be released from federal prison amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The Virginian-Pilot reports Ed Woodard, the 77-year-old former bank president, has served less than a third of a 23-year sentence he received in November 2013 for multiple bank fraud and related charges. Woodard was granted compassionate release last Friday by U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson, who presided over Woodard’s 10-week trial and sentencing.


Confederate flag losing prominence 155 years after Civil War

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Confederate battle flag is losing its place of official prominence in the South 155 years after the end of the Civil War. Mississippi’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Sunday to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag. Other states took action previously. NASCAR, meanwhile, has banned the rebel banner from its car races. The flag with the familiar X design is still visible along Southern highways and in some stores. It’s far from being banished in the region. But even flag supporters are surprised by the speed with which change is taking place amid a national debate over racial inequality.


New gun laws, other Democratic priorities to go into effect

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly. Democrats, in charge for the first time in a generation, refashioned Virginia as the region’s progressive leader on racial, social and economic issues. Lawmakers  passed the South’s strictest gun laws, broadest LGBTQ protections, highest minimum wage and some of its loosest abortion restrictions.


Virginia health officials warn against coronavirus scams

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Department of Health is warning residents that scammers might call them pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers in order to take their money. A news release from the department on Monday says its contact tracers will not ask for money or for a Social Security number, bank account details, credit card numbers or payment of any form. Their services are covered by tax dollars, not individual fees. The health department says legitimate contact tracers let people know when they have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 and then educate them on what to do next and advise them about testing, quarantines and monitoring for symptoms.


Virginia seeks more fines against Mountain Valley Pipeline

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Regulators in Virginia want to fine Mountain Valley Pipeline $86,000 for what they say are continued environmental violations. The Roanoke Times reported Monday that the fine would be for alleged violations that occurred after Mountain Valley paid a $2.15 million settlement last year over similar infractions. Construction work on the project began more than two years ago. The digging of trenches to bury a natural gas pipeline in the mountains has caused problems with erosion. Harmful sediment has been washed onto nearby properties and into streams and rivers. The settlement covered violations through Sept. 18, 2019. But the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says that more violations occurred since then and stretched into March.


ACLU requests Virginia police be barred from using irritants

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Lawyers from the Virginia branch of the American Civil Liberties Union have filed an emergency request to bar police in the state from using chemical irritants or other devices to disperse protesters. News outlets report ACLU attorneys argued in a Richmond court Monday that police violated protesters’ constitutional rights to speech by using these devices to disperse a protest outside city hall on June 23. On Twitter that night, Richmond police said the protests were deemed unlawful because protesters were blocking traffic and entrances to buildings. A city attorney said barring use of such devices is an impediment to police.


Virginia moves a step closer to harnessing offshore wind

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Virginia’s governor has ceremonially signed legislation that sets the stage for the approval of two large-scale offshore wind farms that could produce enough electricity to power more than a million homes in the state. The two proposed projects would be located off the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina. They’re part of a projected boom in the nation’s nascent offshore wind industry that is being driven by plummeting construction costs and surging demand for renewable energy. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the legislation Monday. Northam also viewed two wind turbines 27 miles (about 44 kilometers) off of Virginia’s coast that are part of a pilot project.


Coast Guard helps rescue woman and boy, 3, aboard jet ski

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday it helped rescue a woman and 3-year-old boy aboard a jet ski near Chincoteague, Virginia, after they went missing. The Coast Guard said in a news release that it received a report about the missing jet skiers at 1:50 a.m. Sunday. The search involved a helicopter and multiple boats. The crew from the helicopter located the jet ski with the woman and child still onboard in Horntown Bay and directed a boat to the scene. The woman and boy were transferred back to shore and evaluated by local EMS.

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