Today on News 7, state legislators head to Richmond to tackle a BILLION dollar problem. We'll have a live report on the first day of the General Assembly,
and an American relief worker is kidnapped after he criticizes the Russian military.
High winds overnight bring in warmer temperatures today. With readings up a big higher tomorrow. Forecast details coming up.
Today in Sports, we'll have more on Michael Vick's apparent decison to leave Virginia Tech,
Plus we'll see how a compassionate vet has made a national celebrity out of a disabled kitten.
[SUPER=#4063; Headline Banner]
[sot tape xgr 1 12:02:29 GAVEL]
((knock. knock. knock.))
[sot tape xgr 1 12:02:57]
((THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES IS NOW IN SESSION.))
[OUT Q=in session.]
Virginia lawmakers hit the ground running, talking issues, but mostly money in 2001.
[TAPE# 1:51:42 on 500-4]
The 2001 General Assembly session will be dominated by the same three words the 1998 session was: NO car tax.
The 70 and 100 percent phase-out of the tax hits this budget to the tune of more than a BILLION dollars a year.
Ellen Qualls is at the State Capitol, where the mood is a very different one than this time last year.
Jean, last year, lawmakers were rolling in so much money this day was almost gleeful.
This year, they see themselves with little choice but to go along with Governor Jim Gilmore's plan to pay for it partly with borrowed money.
[IN Q=In the dark]
[SUPER=01-Sen. John Chichester/(R) Stafford Co.; :]
[OUT Q=reigns supreme.]
[sot tape HOUSE 02:40:44]
((IN THE DARK HOURS THAT ARE SURE TO COME...HELP US LIGHT OUR ONE CANDLE RATHER THAN CURSE THE DARKNESS.))
Even the opening prayers in each chamber anticipated the mood.
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says the Governor's scheme to keep the car tax cut on track is NOT fiscally honest.
He's a fellow Republican.
[sot tape XGR 1 11:32:49 ]
((SEN. JOHN CHICHESTER/R-STAFFORD: WELL YOU KNOW I THINK THE TRIGGERS HAVE BEEN PULLED TO FREEZE THE CAR TAX. AND THAT THEY WANT TO GO FORWARD IS I THINK IN CONFLICT WITH I THINK WHAT IS THE REAL PICTURE. Do you have any advance signals from the Governor's office that his speech will be a nice speech? I HAVEN'T HAD ANY SIGNALS FROM THE GOVERNOR AT ALL. IN MONTHS. SO I CAN'T TELL YOU A THING.))
The Governor addresses a joint session tonight, with a speech expected to focus on keeping his promises of four thousand new teachers and no car tax.
Right off the bat in the House, a spat over Speaker Vance Wilkins and Majority Leader Morgan Griffith's plans for a streamlined legislature: a limit on the number of bills lawmakers can file this week.
For some, another reminder of how little power lawmakers have over this governor.
[sot tape HOUSE 03:44:37 ]
((DEL. CHIP WOODRUM/D-ROANOKE: WE DO REMAIN CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE. BUT WHEN WE'RE GONE, THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH HERE REIGNS SUPREME.))
( ad lib)
[GRAPHIC=State of the Commonwealth]
Governor Gilmore will deliver his fourth State of the Commonwealth address tonight. Gilmore will use his address to outline his spending plans for the coming year.
[Take State of the Commonwealth FS 1011]
News 7 will carry the governor's speech live from the state capitol. Our coverage begins at 7 PM.
Michael Vick appears headed for the riches of the NFL, a decision that the Hokies are hoping will not bankrupt their national championship aspirations.
[anchor=jean & steve]
Steve Mason has been following this story last night and today and has an update.
Jean, Michael Vick has called a news conference for tomorrow at 3 PM at the Boys and Girls Club in his hometown of Newport News. There he is expected to announce he is leaving Tech for the NFL where some experts say Vick could be the top pick in the April 21st draft. This chain of events definitely hurts Tech's chances for next season, but Vick still has the support of Coach frank Beamer, who released a statement this morning.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Lee Suggs/Va. Tech Tailback; :00]
((Beamer's statement reads.... "I talked with Michael late Tuesday night. I will let him give you his decision on Thursday. What I asked him to do, and what I tried to help him do, was to gather all the information he needed to make both an informed decision and the decision that was best for him.
Whatever that decision is, I will fully support it. I plan to be at his press conference in Newport News on Thursday to show our support of Mike. I will not answer any other questions until that time."
Vick's backfield teammate, running back Lee Suggs did comment today on Vick's apparent decision to leave Tech.))
((LEE SUGGS/VA. TECH TAILBACK:))
The Hokies did receive some good news today concerning receiver Andre davis. We will have a more on the statement he released later in sports. Michael Vick, again, appears headed to the NFL and will hold a news conference tomorrow at 3pm in Newport News to announce his decision, Jean.
Hokie fans are mourning for themselves and cheering for Vick, as he weighs his move to the pros.
Former Tech football player turned Blacksburg business owner Bill Ellenbogen says he hates to see Vick go.
But he says the prospect of being a first round draft pick is too precious to pass up.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT 1:08:25 - :36]
[IN Q=I think Michael Vick]
((BILL ELLENBOGEN/FORMER TECH PLAYER: I THINK MICHAEL VICK HAS A DIFFICULT CHOICE COMING OUT EARLY, BUT IF YOU HAD A CHOICE BETWEEN PLAYING FOOTBALL NEXT YEAR FOR 12-THOUSAND DOLLARS OR 12-MILLION DOLLARS, THAT MAKES THE CHOICE A LOT EASIER. ))
[SUPER=01-Bill Ellenbogen/Former Tech Player;]
[OUT Q=a lot easier.]
Student athletes like Drew Smith say they'd love to be in Vick's shoes.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT 1:06:26 - :34]
[IN Q=He's making a decision]
((DREW SMITH/TECH SOPHOMORE: HE'S MAKING A DECISION TO HELP HIS FAMILY AND SO HE CAN ENJOY A BETTER LIFE, SO I THINK HE MADE THE RIGHT DECISION. ))
[SUPER=01-Drew Smith/Tech Sophomore;]
[OUT Q=the right decision.]
On News-7 at 6, we'll have more reaction from the Virginia Tech community on the prospect of life without Vick.
An American working to bring medical care to Chechnya was kidnapped by masked gunmen today.
38 year old Kenny Gluck of "Doctors Without Borders" was traveling in a four car convoy southwest of Grozny when unidentified men began firing-
Everyone else managed to escape, but Gluck was forced into a car with the gunmen.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=I would not have any]
(( BRIAN DONALDSON, MSF CHECHNYA: I WOULD NOT HAVE ANY IDEA AS TO THE MOTIVATION FOR THE KIDNAPPERS.
BUT I WOULD APPEAL TO ANYBODY WHO HAS KNOWLEDGE OR HAS THIS PERSON
IN HIS CUSTODY THAT THEY WOULD RELEASE HIM UNHARMED AND AS SOON AS
[SUPER=01-Brian Donaldson/Doctors Without Borders;]
[OUT Q=as soon as possible,]
Gluck was recently critical of the Russian military. He said soldiers refused to let wounded civilians pass checkpoints to reach hospitals.
Doctors Without Borders pulled out of the rebel region in December 1997 following the
kidnapping of aid workers. However it returned in December of 99.
A deal between American Airlines and TWA is taking off- and that has many consumers worried.
Some analysts say the flying public could be in for a bumpy ride- or at the very least- an expensive one- with this latest announcement.
American and TWA confirmed today they will combine in a complex multi billion dollar deal- that would create a beefier competitor to United Airlines.
American Airlines will pay 500-million for TWA- It insists the deal will be good for consumers.
(///// SOT /////)
((WE'RE NOT TRYING TO ELMINATE THE COMPETITION. WE'RE TRYING TO BUILD A NETWORK .. OUR DESIRE IS TO BE ABLE TO SAY TO OUR CUSTOMERS WE CAN TAKE YOU ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.))
[SUPER=01-Donald J. Carty/American Airlines CEO;]
[OUT Q=ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.]
The deal faces regulatory hurdles and expected fights from consumers- who are concerned about American and United controlling half of the U-S Air market.
[(toss to R)]
(toss to Robin)
[SS=NONE]ROBIN IN WX-CENTER
[WXPRO/FULL] WEATHER MAP
FIVE DAY FORECAST
[SS=NONE]ROBIN TOSS BACK[tease#1]
Coming up next on the newscast, we'll have the story of againg sailors guiding an aging warship across the Atlantic.
It's not small feat considering the average age of the sailors is over 70,
also we'll see how the community has helped bring a local restaurant back from destruction.
[Commercial Break #1]
Complaints about a local digital cable provider continue.
Air Cable employs 40 people in Salem and Roanoke.
Employee health insurance was canceled because the company failed to pay its premiums.
Air Cable's landlord says the company owes him rent.
And, several customers say they are waiting for promised refunds.
We told you yesterday the company hasn't paid its employees in a month.
Air Cable says all its bills will "most likely" be paid on Friday or Monday.
So far, customer service has not been affected by the company's financial trouble.
80 million Europeans have it.
Fewer than 1 million Americans do.
"It" is pre-paid legal service.
Paying ahead for legal advice has been around since 1920, but its new to the Roanoke Valley.
Purchasing it opens the door to 24-hour a day legal advice, a free will, and selected court appearances.
If you're from Virginia but get a speeding ticket in D-C, pre-paid legal service will still represent you.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=Pre paid legal covers]
((DAVE WHICHARD: PRE-PAID LEGAL COVERS PEOPLE IN THE U-S AND EVERY STATE IN THE COUNTRY. IF YOU'RE A MEMBER OF PRE-PAID LEGAL AND YOU'RE TRAVELING IN ANOTHER SATE, WE'LL TAKE CAR OF IT. IF YOU'RE TRAVELING IN CANADA, THEY'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU. ANYWHERE NORTH OF THE MEXICAN BOARDER.))
[SUPER=01-Dave Whichard/Pre-Paid Legal Services]
[OUT Q=mexican boarder.]
Pre-paid legal service costs about a dollar a day.
A community has come forward to help bring back a popular restaurant in Danville.
Last month, fire destroyed the Pino's Italian restaurant on Westover Drive.
This week, Pino's re-opened in a temporary location a few miles down the road from the old one.
The owner credits his customers for such a speedy comeback.
[SOT :00:10:10, :00:25:19]
[IN Q=i lost everything]
((SAM FOUAD/OWNER: I LOST EVERYTHING IN ONCE. IT WAS, IT SHOCKED ME WHEN I LOOK AND EVERYTHING WAS GONE, LIKE THIS, IT WAS GONE. BUT THANK GOD I FOUND HELP RIGHT AWAY.))
((JOANN MAXEY/WAITRESS: WE HAD A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE THAT COME BY THEIR HOUSE. I SEEN HIM WHILE I WAS HELPING. THEY WOULD COME IN AND ASK IF THEY CAN DO ANYTHING. THE SUPPORT IN DANVILLE HAS BEEN REALLY GOOD.))
[OUT Q=has been really good]
The owner has already started re-building in his original location.
The project should be completed sometime before the summer.
Firefighters may never know what caused the fire.
Investigators say the damage was too extensive to determine the exact cause of the fire, but they do not suspect arson.
A U-S crew of 29- average age 72- is guiding a rusting U-S warship back from Greece.
They guided the ship more than 4-thousand miles across the Atlantic- sometimes manually sterring the vessel after encountering strong winds, strong currents and cold weather.
Today the ship arrived in Mobile Alabama where we find Jennifer Jones with this report.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Jennifer Jones/CBS News;]
[OUT Q=CBS NEWS]
This celebrated fading World War II vessel, is much like the crew
responsible for getting it here
War veterans, many in their 70s who have seen their share of battles.
The crew left Gibraltar 30-days ago. It crossed the Atlantic...at times
eduring strong winds, rough current and cold weather.
A worthwhile voyage, the crew says...rescuing the LST from Greece, where
it was in a dilapidated state and about to be decommissioned by the
The very vessel used in Normandy as well as campaigns in North Africa,
Salerno and Sicily during World War II.
Since setting their goal last year to salvage the ship and bring it to
the statesmany of the aging crewmembers have fallen ill, one has since
died. But the crewmembers here say like them, hed be proud to know..
Stay tuned, after this break, Robin Reed will be along with the detailed forecast.
[CK/CHYRON/5 PAGES]REGIONAL FORECASTS
[WALK OVER FOR 2 SHOT TOSS]
[SUPER=330-Mostly Clear/Not As Windy/24-28/Sunny And/Rather Mild/54-56]
[SUPER=331-Clear And/Chilly/20-25/Sunny And/Very Mild/54-58]
[SUPER=332-Mostly Clear/Light Winds/16-20/Mostly Sunny/And Pleasant/48-50]
Coming up a little later in the newcast, Washington welcomes the newest pandas to the National Zoo,
and President Clinton unveils a new statue that sponsors hope will serve as an inspiration to the nation's disabled.
[REV NET ANNOUNCEMENT]
[Commercial Break ]
Family members of President Franklin D. Roosevelt hope a new statute in his honor will help those with disabilities not to feel ashamed of their conditions.
The bronze statue was unveiled today in Washington, DCTERMS.
It depicts Roosevelt in his self-designed wheelchair which he was forced to use as a result of polio.
President Clinton says its very important that the statue is life like because people who are in wheelchairs or who are blind can experience it up close.
(///// SOT /////)
((THIS IS A MONUMENT TO FREEDOM. THE POWER OF EVERY MAN AND
WOMAN TO TRANSCEND CIRCUMSTANCE, TO LAUGH IN THE FACE OF FATE, TO MAKE
THE MOST OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN))
[OUT Q=has given]
Disability groups raised nearly 2-million dollars for the statue.
It will join an existing seven acre monument that depicts Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor.
A kitten born without a pelvis has a new form of locomotion.
Speedy made headlines last summer when a sympathetic veterinarian decided not to euthanize the disabled kitten.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=I held him and my hand]
((DR. EDWIN JESZENKAL/SPEEDY'S VETERINARIAN: I HELD HIM AND MY HAND AND
I HAD THIS NEEDLE READY AND I LOOKED AT HIM AND WE MADE EYE CONTACT AND
HE STUCK HIS LITTLE TONGUE OUT AT ME AND I TOLD LINDA I CAN'T DO THIS
AND I WON'T DO THIS. SO WE DIDN'T.))
[SUPER=01-Dr. Edwin Jezszenkal/Speedy's Vet;]
[OUT Q=So we didn't.]
Instead he built the cat a makeshift wheelchair out of a children's toys.
But now Speedy has a permanent version, thanks to the producers of the television show "Ripley's Believe It or Not."
The high tech design may take some getting used to, but doctors are confident he will adjust to his new wheels.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=Because he really does]
((LINDA STEINMETZ/VETERINARIAN'S ASSISTANT: BECAUSE HE REALLY DOES LIKE TO RUN HE'S REALLY PLAYFUL AND REALLY FRIENDLY HE'S SORT OF TURNED INTO A GREETER AROUND HERE HE LOOKS TO GO OUT AND INVESTIGATE BUSHES HE'LL TRY TO CLIMB.
DR. EDWIN JESZENKAL/SPEEDY'S VETERINARIAN: HE LOVES THE GRASS IN THE FALL HE LOVED IT ON THE LAWN.))
[SUPER=01-Linda Steinmetz/Veterinarian's Assistant;]
[OUT Q=on the lawn.]
The aluminum cart was built by an Oregon company that specializes in wheelchairs for animals.
[Take Pinnacle Page]
Speedy has become so popular, he has his own website which you can find his page through a link to our website at WDBJ7-dot-com.
It's time now for our two minute ticker. Steve Mason joins us once again with reaction from Tech football players and more information on Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick's departure from Virginia Tech for the NFL draft.
Michael Vick has picked up his Tech transcript which he will turn into the NFL as a requirement the league has for underclassmen entering the April 21st draft. Virginia Tech has made no formal announcement on Vick's situation as of yet. Head football coach Frank Beamer did release a statement this morning saying he talked to Michael last night and that whatever decision Vick makes, Beamer supports him. Beamer will join Vick tomorrow in Newport News.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=03-Chestnut Hill, MA; :00]
[SUPER=01-Jarrett Ferguson/Va. Tech Fullback; :]
[OUT Q=...in 2002"]
((three PM Thursday, Vick is scheduled to announce his intentions to enter the NFL draft from the Boys and Girls Club in Newport News. Vick said at a December 15th news conference in Blacksburg that he was returning to Tech for his junior season but he began to question his decision during Gator Bowl week. He later released a statement saying he intended to come back to school. But over the last two weeks he has obviously had a change of heart.
Injuries that cost him substantial playing time this season and the money are key factors in his decision. Sources say Vick's contract could command as much as 55 million with a signing bonus between 14 and 20 million dollars.
Even though Vick's Tech teammates can understand his thought process, his pending departure still comes as a shock.
((JARRETT FERGUSON/VA. TECH FULLBACK:))
Though Vick's announcement to leave Tech for the pros is a crushing turn of events for the Hokies chances next season, Tech did receive good news today about receiver Andre Davis. He released a statement from his home in Niscayuna New York saying..." I have decided to return to Virginia Tech for my senior year. I feel that I have to work on a couple of things to get better as a player. Even if Michael Vick does not return, I still feel I can accomplish some things to get in a position to be a first round draft pick in 2002."))
The San Diego Chargers have the first pick in the NFL draft and sources say Vick could be the number one pick. [5-Pan
The new pandas at the National Zoo in Washington are finally on view to visitors.
The Capitol warmly welcomed MEI XIANG (may-SHAHNG) and TIAN TIAN (tee-YEN' tee-YEN) today in Washington. Gretchen Carlson has more.
(///// SOT /////)
[SUPER=01-Larry Small/Smithsonian Institution;:25]
[SUPER=01-Li Zhaoxing/China Ambassador;]
[SUPER=01-Gretchen Carlson/CBS News;]
[OUT Q=Gretchen Carlson, CBS NEWS]
(you knew something special was about to show up. Schoolkids lined the
fences completely quiet and then
(NAT - 10:43:30)
Here he comes!
the two giant pandas appeared.
(NAT - clapping)
(SOT) 10:12:41 Dr. Lucy Spellman/Director of National Zoo
We are certain this will be a wow exhibit!
Tian Tian, a 3-year-old boy, and Mei Xiang, a 2-year-old girl, are the
newest residents at the Washington National Zoo. Theyre creating more
hype and panda-monium than politics.
(SOT - Larry Small - Smithsonian Institution Secretary
I dont think since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have we seen a more
The giant pandas came from China a month ago, arriving at Dulles airport
via Fed-Ex. Theyre on loan from China to the United States for 10
years and 10 million dollars.
(SOT - ) Li Zhaoxing/China Ambassador
They are the 2 VIPS, the very important pandas who have brought our 2
great nations closer once again.
(STAND-UP) Gretchen Carlson Reporting
So why are the pandas so precious? Because there are only 1000 of them
left in the wild in China, and even now, only 7 of them in U-S zoos.
(S0T - 10:16:13) Dr. Lucy Spellman
In their way are ambassadors for conservation.
The arrival of Tien Tien and Mei Xiang at the Whasington National Zoo is
even more important, since the zoo has been without any pandas for
almost 2 years.
Ling Ling, a 28-year-old panda died there in 1999.
So as Washington gets ready for one first couple to leave and another to
come in this couple is content to be the constant first
couple.......now two... maybe sometime soon - three. Gretchen Carlson,