Evan Jones

Governor Northam is proposing about $22 million in new state spending for efforts to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies — and reduce the racial disparity in the state’s maternal mortality rate. He unveiled his proposal yesterday, one that includes funding to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms and increase home visits from care providers. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing about $22 million for efforts to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies and reduce the racial disparity in the state’s maternal mortality rate.

Northam announced Monday that his budget proposal for the upcoming legislative session includes funding to expand Medicaid coverage for new moms and increase home visits from care providers. Funding is also included to study the possibility of Medicaid reimbursement for doula services and to increase access to long-acting contraception.

Northam, a Democrat, established a new initiative in June intended to reduce the maternal mortality rate for black women, which his administration says is more than twice as high as it is for black women.

Passing a two-year state spending plan will be a top priority for the General Assembly during the 2020 session. During last month’s legislative elections, voters gave Democrats full control of the General Assembly for the first time in a generation.

The governor is expected to share full details of his budget plan next week.

It is down to the final two candidates to be Salem’s next City Manager, and both will be present at a public “meet and greet” session tonight. Jay Taliafierro is Salem’s Interim City Manager and very well known in the city. Lowell Crow has managed two Illinois cities after a 30-year Navy career. Both Taliaferro and Crow will be present at a meet-and-greet tonight at Salem City Hall from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

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Mayor Foley says a date is not yet scheduled to name a permanent successor to Kevin Boggess. A Salem City Council majority asked him to resign last January.

Photo: NPS

The National Park Service has confirmed that a body found this morning near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Bedford County is that of northern Virginia man missing since late October. A motorcycle belonging to 63-year-old James Hogue was left unoccupied for several days at the Thunder Ridge parking area before a search began at that time. His body was found today on a trail not far away. There is no word yet on the cause of death.

NEWS RELEASE: (Bedford County, VA) – On the morning of December 6, 2019, at approximately 8:16 a.m., National Park Service dispatch operators received a report of a human body on a trail near Thunder Ridge Parking Area at Milepost 75 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers arrived on scene and confirmed the body to be that of James Albert Hogue, 63 years old, of Bristow, Virginia. Mr. Hogue’s unoccupied motorcycle was first noticed at the Thunder Ridge Parking Area, near Milepost 75, on October 26, 2019. It is not uncommon for vehicles to be left at parkway overlooks for extended periods while owners are on a backcountry hike. After two days, Parkway law enforcement rangers began an investigation and search.

The cause of death is still under investigation.

A Virginia Lottery ticket sold in Roanoke and worth $100,000 is two weeks away from going unclaimed. It was a Cash 5 ticket for June 21st and was purchased at Smoker’s Choice on Franklin Road near Kabuki and Red Lobster. Whoever bought the ticket has until December 18th to claim it – or lose out on the 100 grand.

NEWS RELEASE: Would you throw away $100,000? Someone may be in danger of doing just that. A Cash 5 ticket matched all five numbers in the June 21 night drawing to win the game’s $100,000 top prize. Since then, no one has come forward with that winning ticket to claim the prize. By law, winning tickets in Virginia expire 180 days after the drawing. That means the ticket will become worthless at 5:00 p.m. (close of business) on Wednesday, December 18. The ticket was bought at Smokers Choice, located at 3515 Franklin Road SW in Roanoke. The winning numbers for that drawing were 4-17-18-30-31. Unclaimed prizes, by law, go to Virginia’s Literary Fund, which provides low interest loans to localities for public school construction, renovations and technology upgrades. Whoever has the winning ticket should contact the Virginia Lottery immediately or present the winning ticket at the Virginia Lottery’s Roanoke Valley Customer Service Center at 1287 Towne Square Boulevard in Roanoke.

Cash 5 drawings are held daily at 1:59 p.m. and 11 p.m. The odds of winning the $100,000 top prize are 1 in 278,256.

The Virginia Lottery is good fun for a great cause. Roanoke City received more than $14.1 million in Lottery funds for K-12 public education in Fiscal Year 2019. For more information and a complete list of Lottery funds distributed to Virginia school districts, visit the Virginia Lottery’s Giving Back page.

Rep. Ben Cline

The House Judiciary Committee began its role today in the impeachment inquiry of President Trump, and 6th District Republican Congressman Ben Cline is right in the middle of it as a committee member. Just over an hour before the hearings began, Cline joined us live on the Roanoke Valley’s Morning News for a wide-ranging discussion on what has led up to the hearings, what may happen during them, and what what may follow in the full House of Representatives. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

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Here is the full conversation:

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A new statewide poll shows President Trump’s supporters are unwavering amid all the talk of possible impeachment — although that support remains in the low 30’s. It comes as the House Judiciary Committee begins considering potential articles of impeachment. The same poll finds most Virginians expressing support for agenda items that Democrats most frequently voiced in gaining control of the General Assembly next year. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

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Click here for full poll results and methodology

A lot of people in Bedford are preparing for a big Saturday, one that brings in hundreds of people on a busy holiday shopping weekend. It starts with the Peaks of Otter Christmas Classic 5K Run — now in its 40th year — and it continues later Saturday morning with the annual Bedford Christmas Parade.WFIR’s Evan Jones has more:

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CLICK HERE for full event information.

Photo: FCSO

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says murder suspect Michael Brown was hiding in the attic of his mother’s home when he was taken into custody on Monday of last week. Officials say new information led to a new search of the residence, and as officers prepared to enter the attic, Brown crawled out and was apprehended without incident. Officials say Brown never contacted law enforcement to turn himself in.

From the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office:  There have been numerous media inquiries about the apprehension of Michael Brown. For clarification the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will provide the following statement.  On November 27, 2019, in the early morning hours, the investigation led law enforcement authorities including the U. S. Marshals, the Virginia State Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, back to the residence of Rodney Brown on Woodthrush Cir. in Franklin County. Officers were searching the residence for Michael Brown. As officers prepared to enter the attic space of the residence, Michael Brown crawled out of the attic and was apprehended by law enforcement without further incident. At no point did Michael Brown contact law enforcement and make arrangements to surrender or turn himself in.

The first-ever “Illuminights” opens tonight at Explore Park. It’s expected to be a major fund-raiser for both Center in the Square and Roanoke County Parks, Recreation and Tourism. 1,000 or more people are expected each evening, so you are encouraged to sign up on line for a specific hour of arrival. That assures your spot, and it saves you $4 a person. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

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Click here for full Illuminights information.



This is one of the busiest days of the year at the Roanoke Rescue Mission as staff and a horde of volunteers prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of people. About half of them are current residents there, either needing emergency shelter or taking part in recovery programs. WFIR’s Evan Jones has more on today’s preparations:

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