AP

pittsylvania-countyRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Parties in the legal fight over prayers at Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors meetings are taking the battle to federal appeals court. Attorneys in the case are scheduled to present oral arguments in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Oct. 28. The Danville Register & Bee reports (http://bit.ly/VG3Jop) that the Pittsylvania County and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia will each have 20 minutes to argue their cases. The county is arguing that resident Barbara Hudson’s 2011 suit has failed following a May U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of public prayer. ACLU attorneys are asking the court dismiss the county’s appeal, arguing that the county failed to file a timely appeal and that the Supreme Court case is different from that involving Pittsylvania County.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will answer questions about the state of his marriage when his public corruption trial resumes in federal court in Richmond. McDonnell took the stand Wednesday afternoon and said his wife, Maureen, showed anxiety over her new role as first lady the day after he was elected in 2009. His attorney was about to ask him more questions about the marriage when court adjourned, leaving that topic for Thursday. The former governor and his wife are charged with accepting more than $165,0 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s dietary supplements. Defense attorneys have suggested that the McDonnells could not have conspired because their marriage was crumbling and they were barely talking.

wfir-linkROANOKE, Va. (AP) _ A former bookkeeper at a Roanoke accounting firm has admitted to stealing money from a client. The Roanoke Times (http://bit.ly/1sVy94e) reports 36-year-old Laura Warner Scott of Vinton pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Roanoke to one count of wire fraud. Court records show Scott used bank account information from a client of her employer to arrange payment of her personal credit cards, utility bills and student loans. The scheme lasted from January 2012 to April 2014. The client, who was the president of a Wytheville-area business, spotted suspicious transactions in his business checking account and alerted authorities. Scott is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 24.

A.T. Appalachian TrailPITTSBURGH (AP) _ The National Park Service has banned drones from flying over the Appalachian Trail. The Park Service said Wednesday the interim rule prohibits launching, landing or operating unmanned aircraft from or on Appalachian National Scenic Trail lands. The ban takes effect immediately and lasts until the Park Service can develop an appropriate policy. The Park Service says drones could affect resources and visitors in ways it has yet to analyze so more study is needed. The Appalachian Trail goes through parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. In June the Park Service directed all parks to take steps to prohibit the use of the increasingly popular aircraft, which are often used to take photos and videos.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Former Gov. Bob McDonnell is telling jurors that the former CEO of a dietary supplements maker did not get any special treatment from his administration. McDonnell testified that Star Scientific Inc. founder Jonnie Williams got little more than routine access. The onetime rising Republican star began his much-anticipated testimony Wednesday. He and his wife, Maureen, are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for promoting his company’s products. Williams testified for the prosecution under immunity. He said he showered the McDonnells with gifts and loans to entice them to help him gain acceptance and state-backed research for his company’s tobacco-based anti-inflammatory, Anatabloc. The former governor’s lawyers have suggested that Maureen McDonnell acted largely on her own to promote the product.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Taking the stand in his defense in his public corruption trial, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says he got an inkling soon after his election that his wife had reservations about being first lady. McDonnell began his much-anticipated testimony Wednesday. He and his wife, Maureen, are accused of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting the dietary supplements-maker’s products. The former governor’s lawyers have suggested that Maureen McDonnell acted largely on her own to promote Anatabloc, a tobacco-based anti-inflammatory. Bob McDonnell said Wednesday that he could tell she was not as happy as he was about his election and that she was upset and concerned about her role as first lady.

Gay Pride RainbowWASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court is delaying the start of same-sex marriage in Virginia. The court on Wednesday granted a request from a county clerk in northern Virginia to block same-sex marriages across the state while the issue is being appealed to the Supreme Court. The court provided no explanation for its order. Without court intervention, same-sex couples would have been allowed to wed as of Thursday.  In January, the justices issued an order putting same-sex unions on hold in Utah while the federal appeals court in Denver was hearing the case. That court upheld the decision striking down Utah’s gay marriage ban, but delayed its decision from taking effect pending appeal to the Supreme Court.  Most other federal court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage also have been put on hold.

Education-News1RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia students continue to improve and exceed the national average on the ACT college admissions exam. The Virginia Department of Education reports that Virginia students scored an average of 22.6 on the test this year. That tops last year’s score of 22.4 and is well above the national average of 21. Virginia students improved and beat the national average in math, reading and science. Virginia’s English score remained at 22 but also was above the national average. ACT results are reported on a scale of 1 to 36. Officials say 26 Virginia students achieved a perfect score. The number of graduating Virginia public school seniors taking the ACT increased more than 4 percent to 19,491. The SAT remains the dominant college admissions test in the state.

Liberty University logoLYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) _ Liberty University is screening international students for the Ebola virus. Media outlets report that students received questionnaires this week regarding visits to any West African villages. Liberty also plans to monitor the students for 21 days. Other colleges in the Lynchburg area plan similar screenings, along with high schools that accept exchange students. Liberty Masters of Public Health program director Dr. Richard Lane tells media outlets that about 20 international students are from Nigeria, including 17 who are new students. Nigeria is one of four countries affected by the current Ebola outbreak. The others are Sierra Leona, Liberia and Guinea. The outbreak began last December and has killed 1,229 people in these countries. Lane says measures are in place locally to handle Ebola if there was a suspected case.

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

Former Virginia
Gov. Bob McDonnell

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The personal finances of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were closely scrutinized in testimony at the couple’s corruption trial in federal court in Richmond. Prosecutors on Wednesday cross-examined a defense witness who testified that the McDonnells were financially sound and were not desperate for cash that they received from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams. Prosecutors say the McDonnells were financially desperate and agreed to accept more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from Williams in exchange for using their office to promote Star Scientific’s dietary supplements. Under cross-examination, forensic accountant J. Allen Kosowsky acknowledged that the McDonnells had tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt and that their ability to escape it depended in large part on money from Williams.