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Across Virginia

Photo: History.com

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The History channel’s series “American Pickers” will soon be filming in Virginia. The Virginian-Pilot reports that a film crew from the documentary show has plans to head to the state this spring to hunt for “unique antique collections and interesting stories” behind the items. The newspaper says anyone interested in appearing on the show should contact americanpickers@cineflix.com or call 1-855-OLD-RUST. Any kind of business or museum is not eligible.

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Military Institute has announced that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will speak at its graduation exercises on May 16. Tillerson concluded a career of more than 40 years in the petroleum industry before retiring as chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil at the end of 2016. He was sworn in as Secretary of State in 2017. Tillerson is a former member of the Boy Scouts of America’s executive committee and served as the national president of the Boy Scouts from 2010 to 2012. Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, superintendent of VMI, cited Tillerson’s career in managing an international energy company and as Secretary of State. He said Tillerson’s success and his long record of service “will resonate especially well with our graduates.”

The cost of a controversial natural gas pipeline planned to run through Virginia is expected to increase by more than $1 billon. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Duke Energy is a 47 percent partner in the 600-mile (1,000-kilometer) Dominion Energy-led Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Duke CEO Lynn Good said in an earnings call Tuesday the estimated total project cost is now at least $6 billion because of delays in the permitting process. Dominion spokesman Aaron Ruby could not confirm the new estimate but said Dominion’s financial disclosure next week would have more information. Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Greg Buppert says the higher cost means Virginia and North Carolina utility customers will pay more. Duke anticipates the project’s cost to increase by up to $1.5 billion before its expected 2019 completion date.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Even with new support from key GOP leaders, Medicaid expansion in Virginia still faces serious roadblocks. That includes a fierce intra-party squabble among Republicans and strong disagreement among expansion supporters on how to pay for it.
Those divisions were on display Thursday as both chambers of the GOP-controlled General Assembly debated whether Medicaid expansion should be included in the state budget. The House favors Medicaid expansion and the new hospital tax, which the Senate opposes.
Anti-expansion lawmakers and advocates also came to the Capitol to lobby House Republicans who previously opposed expansion but now support expanding the publicly funded health care program for the poor with work requirements and copays.
Republican Corey Stewart, a GOP U.S. Senate hopeful, held a news conference where repeatedly insulted Republicans who support expansion.

A project at Virginia Tech intends to help bring more help to Appalachian families facing the challenges of autism — help that is not always easy to find in rural areas. The mobile clinic is designed in particular to help families whose child should be speaking by now but is not. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story.

02-23 VT Autism Wrap1-WEB

Click here for full program information.

CROZET, Va. (AP) – Witnesses to a collision between a train carrying Republican congressmen and a garbage truck in rural Virginia have told investigators the truck entered the railroad crossing after safety gates came down to warn drivers about the approaching train. A preliminary report on the Jan. 31 crash was issued Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. The probable cause of the accident hasn’t yet been determined. One trash company employee was killed, while the truck driver, another employee and several others were injured. The report said data taken from the camera on the Amtrak train – carrying dozens of Republic lawmakers to an annual strategy retreat in West Virginia – showed that as the crossing came into view, the gates were down and the trash truck was on the crossing.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) _ Police in Charlottesville have charged a Richmond man for a second time after he allegedly removed tarps covering statues of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The Daily Progress reports police received a call Friday reporting that the black tarps covering the statues had been removed. When officers arrived at Emancipation Park, they spoke to witnesses who identified two men as suspects. Officers charged 34-year-old Christopher James Wayne with trespassing and vandalism. The second man was not charged. Wayne was charged with trespassing earlier this month after the tarps were removed three times over the weekend of Feb. 3. The tarps were placed over the statues in August after a woman was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally.

Photo: William & Mary

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) _ William & Mary has named a woman to lead the university for the first time in its 325-year history. The school in Williamsburg said in a statement Tuesday that Smith College provost Katherine Rowe will become its 28th president. She will replace W. Taylor Reveley III, who is retiring this summer after 10 years. Rowe has served as provost and dean of the faculty at Smith since 2014, working as its chief academic officer. Her areas of research and scholarship include Shakespeare as well as Medieval and Renaissance drama and media history. William & Mary said Rowe has been a leader in digital innovation of the liberal arts and transformed Smith’s liberal arts curriculum. She also increased diversity in the faculty and broke national fundraising records for women’s colleges.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Trump administration will soon hold its only scheduled public meeting in Virginia on offshore drilling.
The Daily Press reports that officials will be available to answer the public’s questions Wednesday in Richmond.
The Republican president’s decision last month to open most of the nation’s coast to oil and gas drilling horrified environmentalists, and many elected officials from both major political parties oppose it. But energy groups and some business organizations support it as a way to become less dependent on foreign energy.
The meeting is being held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is part of the Interior Department. It will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Four Points by Sheraton Richmond Airport. Participants can ask questions or submit written comments.

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) – A federal judge has refused to postpone a hearing in a lawsuit brought by developers seeking possession of land in several Virginia counties for a controversial pipeline project. Atlantic Coast Pipeline is seeking possession of several properties in Augusta, Bath, Buckingham and Cumberland counties for the natural gas pipeline, which would run through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The judge declined Monday to postpone a Feb. 26 hearing regarding land in Bath County, but he ordered developers to turn over more information and gave property owners more time to respond. Disputes over land in other counties also will be addressed at next Monday’s hearing. Developers say federal environmental regulations require completion of any tree felling by March 14, and that missing that deadline would push back construction until November.