COAL ASH SPILL-VA
Va. taking long-term review of NC coal ash spill
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality says the state is looking at the long-term health of the Dan River after a massive coal ash spill in North Carolina.
DEQ Director David K. Paylor said Monday the state will hold Duke Energy "fully accountable" for any environmental damage from the spill last month.
Paylor said the monitoring of water and aquatic life in the Dan is likely to take several years. To date, he said testing of drinking water drawn from the Dan River by Virginia localities has found no public health concerns.
The spill occurred about 20 miles from Virginia at a coal ash dump owned by Duke. The spill coated 70 miles of the river in a toxic gray sludge.
Skorton named new head of Smithsonian
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Smithsonian Board of Regents has named Dr. David Skorton to lead the world's largest museum and research complex in Washington.
The governing board announced its selection Monday after a closely guarded six-month search.
Skorton, the president of Cornell University and a cardiologist, will replace Secretary Wayne Clough (cluff), who plans to retire in October after six years. The 64-year-old will be the first physician to lead the organization and its 13th secretary since 1846. For much of its history, the Smithsonian has been led by scientists
Clough announced his retirement plans in September. He was previously the president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years.
The Smithsonian includes 19 museums based primarily on the National Mall, the National Zoo and nine research facilities around the world.
Spotsylvania may expand mural to add diversity
SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (AP) - A mural depicting Spotsylvania County's history could be expanded after criticism that it lacks diversity.
The county's Board of Supervisors is scheduled to decide Tuesday whether to add six panels depicting prominent local African-Americans and Native Americans.
The mural is in the meeting room at the county's main government building.
A subcommittee of the Historic Preservation Commission proposed expanding the mural. The commission endorsed the proposal last month.
Subcommittee member Roger Braxton tells The Free Lance-Star that people need to see a representation of everyone in the county in its public buildings.
The late Sidney King painted the mural for the county in 1989.
Martinsville plans more tornado warning sirens
MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) - Martinsville plans to install eight additional tornado warning sirens across the city.
The city also will replace one of its two existing sirens. Emergency management coordinator Bob Phillips tells the Martinsville Bulletin that the existing sirens can't be heard citywide.
Phillips says the sirens will be used only for tornado warnings. He says it would confuse residents if the sirens were activated for other emergencies.
A grant of about $190,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the project's cost. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management will pay some of the city's 25 percent match. Phillips says the city will pay the remaining cost.
Tazewell Co. approves agreement for new trail
TAZEWELL, Va. (AP) - Tazewell County has agreed to allow the Southwest Regional Recreation Authority to operate the county's portion of a new trail system.
The county Board of Supervisors approved a memorandum of understanding with the authority last week for the Spearhead Trail.
Supervisor Mike Hymes tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that the county will build the trail.
The Spearhead Trail will be open to all-terrain vehicles, bikes, horses, hikers and others. It's an initiative of the regional authority.
The first section opened in Wise County in 2013. Plans call for the trail to be extended through seven Southwest Virginia counties and potentially link with West Virginia's Hatfield-McCoy Trail system.
Parents of Va. inmate who has cancer seek clemency
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A Richmond-area couple says their imprisoned son has terminal cancer and they want to bring him home.
Brenda Kirby and Charles Davis have requested a medical clemency release for their son, 35-year-old Jason Scott Davis. He is serving a two-year, one-month sentence at Powhatan Correctional Center.
Brenda Kirby tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch that her 6-foot-1-inch tall son weighs just 90 pounds and is bedridden. She says he wants to be with his parents.
Only the governor can grant medical clemency for a state inmate.
A spokesman for Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Brian Coy, tells the newspaper that the secretary of the commonwealth's office received the clemency request last week. The office will evaluate the request and make a recommendation to the governor.
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