[HEADLINES]

[TALENT=Kimberly]

(----------------)
[VO-NAT]


A New Jersey company wants to buy Virginia Gas--
The proposed merger is inciting debate at the Roanoke county courthouse.
We'll have a live report.
(----------------)
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]


And a five- vehicle accident on Interstate 5-81 ties up rush hour traffic this morning.
(/////////////)
[TALENT=Jacey]
[SS=None]


Cloudy skies were the main feature this morning but partly sunny skies are on tap for the rest of the day... and it's a bit cooler.
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[SS=None]


News 7 at noon is coming up.




[Video-Open]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=kmc]
[TAPE#=net]
[GRAPHIC=none]
(------------)
[VO-NAT]


A proposed merger between two gas companies is fueling a debate at the Roanoke County Courthouse today.

(------------)


[Virginia-Gas]


[ANCHOR=Kim]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=kor]
[TAPE#=00-49]
[GRAPHIC=HOLD]


Good afternoon....
A New Jersey gas distributor called N-U-I wants to buy Virginia Gas. If the merger is approved by the State Cooperation Commission, a new gas pipeline is likely to be built in Southwest Virginia.
The S-C-C is hearing arguments today from N-U-I, Virginia Gas, and opponents of the pipeline.
[DOUBLE BOXES=Kim /Jen Microwave;]


Jennifer Miele is at the Roanoke County Courthouse with the latest.
[LIVE=Jennifer /FULL]
[SUPER=@Jennifer1]
[SUPER=05-Salem;]


((ROLLCUE:...arguments against the merger today.))
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=]
[SUPER=01-Brent Riley/Pipeline Opponent; :00]
[SUPER=03-Salem; :17]
[RUNS=:55]
[OUT Q=approval of the merger.]



[LIVE=Jennifer /FULL]
[SUPER=05-Salem;]




[DOUBLE BOXES=Kim /Jen Microwave;]




[Ashcroft]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=kmc]
[TAPE#=net]
[GRAPHIC=none]


Attorney General- Designate John Ashcroft's conservative views may come under fire today.
Confirmation hearings get under way in about an hour-and-a- half.
Ashcroft will likely take some heat from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Stephen Clark has a preview.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=]
[SUPER=01-John Ashcroft/Attorney General Designate;]
[SUPER=03-Washington, DC;]
[SUPER=01-Charles Polk/Ashcroft's Advisor;]
[SUPER=01-Stephen Clark/Reporting;]
[RUNS=:00]
[OUT Q=Clark, CBS News, Washington.]



(sot ashcroft)


This was John Ashcroft late yesterday, at a prep session..getting ready for what could be the most contentious confirmation hearings since Clarence Thomas a decade ago.

nat sot


Senate Democrats promise tough questioning over Ashcroft's conservative record: especially on civil rights and abortion. This morning, a coalition of women's groups spoke out against him: (:15)

(SOT TBA)


Later this week, expect fireworks when Judge Ronnie White testifies. Ashcroft opposed White's nomination to the federal bench in Missouri, leading to cries of racism. But Ashcroft advisor Charles Polk says that incident is not what it seems. (:12)

(SOT: Charles Polk/Ashcroft Advisor: 7:04:14 He voted for 26 of 27

judicial nominees that were black. Theres a pattern there, but the pattern is one of diversity (12)
Polk says Bush's Attorney General nominee is looking forward to the hearings to let America see the real John Ashcroft. (:05)

(SOT: Polk: 7:03:47 youve got a lot of folks in other places not from

Missouri, and they dont really know him, stating a lot of things that are just misstatements (08)
And even the most ardent opponents admit Ashcroft will more than likely be confirmed, according to the tradition that Senators almost always confirm their own. (:07)
))

[Teen-Drivers]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=jda]
[TAPE#=00-48 TC1:14:11]
[GRAPHIC=None]



The House of Delegates has approved legislation that would prohibit minors from driving between midnight and five A-M.
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Richmond]


The legislation is intended to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by teenage drivers.
But the bill brought complaints from some lawmakers who argued that parents, not the government, should decide when their children are allowed to drive.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=I would ask you]

((DEL. PANNY RHODES/R- RICHMOND: I WOULD ASK YOU TO PLEASE PASS THIS BILL. I BELIEVE IT'S A SMALL STEP TO MAKING OUR HIGHWAYS SAFER IN VIRGINIA FOR ALL THE OTHER PEOPLE NOT JUST THOSE UNDER 18.)) ((DEL. BARNEY DAY/D- PATRICK CO.: I THINK THIS IS A PARENTAL DECISION. IF YOU DON'T WANT YOUR KIDS ON THE HIGHWAY AFTER MIDNIGHT OR AFTER 10 PM OR AFTER 5PM TAKE THEIR DRIVERS LICENSE AWAY FROM THEM. DON'T GIVE THEM THE CAR. DON'T BUY THEM A CAR.))
[SUPER=01-Del. Panny Rhodes/(R) Richmond; :00]
[SUPER=01-Del. Barney Day/(D) Patrick Co.; :12]
[RUNS=:24]
[OUT Q=don't buy them a car.]
(-------------)
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[GRAPHIC=none]


Despite objections, the House approved the bill by a two to one margin.

[Open-Containers]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=jda]
[TAPE#=00-51 TC1:07:15]
[GRAPHIC=None]



The State Senate approved a bill that would strengthen the state's open container law.
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Richmond]


The bill would impose a 25-dollar civil fine on anyone caught with an open alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a vehicle.
Without the legislation, the state stands to lose as much as 15-million dollars a year in federal road construction money.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=So the purpose behind this bill]

((SEN. KEN STOLLE/R- VIRGINIA BEACH: SO THE PURPOSE BEHIND THIS BILL IS AN INDIRECT WAY TO TRY AND GIVE THE POLICE OFFICERS THE TOOLS THAT THEY NEED TO SAY IF THEY STOP THIS CAR, THAT THEY'RE NOT GOING TO ALLOW A BAD SITUATION TO GET WORSE.)) ((SEN. CHARLES HAWKINS/(R) CHATHAM: IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO. IT REALLY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DRINKING AND DRIVING. IT HAS TO DO WITH FEDERAL MONEY AND TRYING TO PASS SOMETHING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COULDN'T PASS WITHOUT HOLDING US HOSTAGE WITH OUR OWN MONEY.))
[SUPER=01-Sen. Ken Stolle/(R) Virginia Beach; :00]
[SUPER=01-Sen. Charles Hawkins/(R) Chatham; :13]
[RUNS=:26]
[OUT Q=with our own money.]
(-------------)
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[GRAPHIC=None]


The open container bill passed the Senate on a vote of 31 to 9.

[Obit-Walker]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=dse]
[TAPE#=00-53 TC26:42]
[GRAPHIC=None]


A longtime member of Virginia's General Assembly has died.
He served for nearly four decades.
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Richmond/File Tape]


Yesterday afternoon, former Democratic Senator Stanley Walker died in a Norfolk hospital.
Walker was a defender of education and public safety during his legislative career.
The Norfolk native was 77.
(------------)



[581-Ax]


[ANCHOR=Kim]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=jmc]
[TAPE#=00-]
[GRAPHIC=Accident]


A couple of accidents shutdown the southbound lanes of Interstate 581 this morning.
The first accident happened just after 7:30.
State police say a car having mechanical problems slowed down or stopped on the highway near the Orange Avenue exit.
That car got hit from behind.
A few minutes later, there was another chain reaction collision involving three vehicles.
In all, three people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.
Traffic was stalled for about an hour.

[Earthquake]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=kmc]
[TAPE#=net]
[GRAPHIC=Earthquake]


Thousands of coffins are headed to El Salvador, where the death toll grows higher with each passing day.
Officials say the body count from Saturday's earthquake now stands at 600.
Bobbi Harley has more.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=]
[SUPER=03-Santa Tecla, El Salvador; :00]
[SUPER=01-Luis Rojas/U.S. Rescue Worker; :35]
[SUPER=01-Bobbi Harley/Reporting; 1:06]
[RUNS=1:20]
[OUT Q=Harley, CBS News, Houston.]



[Tech-quake]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=mjo]
[TAPE#=500-4 TC1:54:04]
[GRAPHIC=Earthquake]


Scientists in Blacksburg are studying the El Salvador earthquake.
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Blacksburg;]


The 7-point-six magnitude earthquake was recorded over the weekend by computers at the Virginia Tech Seismology Lab.
Data from the lab was then sent to the United States Geological Service in Colorado.
The Tech department has recorded seismic data for the United States since the 60s, when it began by detecting nuclear test activity.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT 2:07:52 - 2:08:09]
[IN Q=EVEN A SMALL...]

((MARTIN CHAPMAN/VT SEISMOLOGIST: EVEN A SMALL EARTHQUAKE CAN BE RECORDED AT REMARKABLE FAR DISTANCES WHEN YOU HAVE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT... IT'S MORE DIFFICULT WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SMALLER EARTHQUAKES AT A LONG RANGE. ))
[SUPER=01-Martin Chapman/Virginia Tech Seismologist;]
[RUNS=:17]
[OUT Q=AT LONG RANGE.]
(------------)
[VO-NAT]


The Tech geologists also study seismic activity in Virginia.
Sunday night, they recorded a small earthquake in Galax.
Students will study the data from the El Salvador earthquake in class.
(------------)



[Walker]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=ssm]
[TAPE#=00-49 TC52:21]
[GRAPHIC=None]


Investigators are starting from scratch in the case of a Bedford County man who's been missing for nine months.


(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Bedford Co./Saturday]


Authorities dredged a pond near Thaxton Saturday looking for the body of 53- year- old James Walker.
A tipster had told police he'd been murdered and his body dumped in the pond, but police found nothing.
Walker vanished from a grocery store parking lot last April.. family members say they're not giving up hope.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT 10:11:36]
[IN Q=Well it was]

((MISSY WALKER/DAUGHTER: WELL IT WAS JUST THE WHOLE IDEA OF IF THEY'RE GOING TO FIND HIM OR IF THEY'RE NOT IS THE WHOLE POINT NOW IS WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO RIGHT NOW IS TRYING TO FIND HIM, SO THEN WE CAN BE AT EASE, SO WE CAN KNOW WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO.))
[SUPER=01-Missy Walker/Daughter; ]
[RUNS=15]
[OUT Q=what not to do.]
(------------)
[VO-NAT]


Anyone with information about Walker's disappearance should call the Bedford City police.
(------------)



[Night-King]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=tha]
[TAPE#=00-41 TC1:59:31]
[GRAPHIC=Martin Luther King Jr. ]

Hundreds of people gathered in a Roanoke church to remember the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. A friend, admirer and assistant to the slain civil rights leader was among those who honored his memory. Teresa Hamilton has more.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT]
[IN Q=St. John's]
[SUPER=03-Roanoke; :00]
[SUPER=01-Herbert Coulton/Virginia SCLC; :23]
[SUPER=01-Ralph Smith/Roanoke Mayor; 1:13 ]
[SUPER=@Teresa2; 1:40]
[RUNS=1:49]
[OUT Q=NEWS 7, Roanoke.]

(( St. John's Episcopal Church in Roanoke was filled with men and women of all ages and races... all under one roof to celebrate the contributions of a person respected around the world. Among the many speakers... a man who worked alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Junior helping spread his message of non-violence and equality.
(////SOT////)
[sot 23:48:08 tape number 3]
[in q= When president]

((HERBERT COULTON/SCLC STATE UNIT INTERIM PRESIDENT: WHEN PRESIDENT KENNEDY WAS KILLED IN 63 HIS FIRST STATEMENT TO CORETTA WAS THAT'S THE WAY I'M GOING, I CAN FEEL IT.)) [RUNS10]
[OUT Q= i can feel it.]

Today Herbert Coulton is Interim President of the Virginia State unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
He described King as a down to earth man who practiced what he preached... pointing one instance in which King was struck in the face while giving a speech.
(////sot/////)
[sot 00:33:34]
[in q=We were so ]

((WE WERE SO STUNNED, WE RAN UP ON STAGE AND GRABBED THIS MAN AND THE BIRMINGHAM POLICE CAME AND DR. KING SAID DON'T ARREST HIM, LET HIM STAY, HE MIGHT LEARN SOMETHING AND THAT'S A REAL ACT OF NON-VIOLENCE.)) [runs12]
[out q= of non-violence.]

Others also reflected on King's many contributions. During the ceremony.... local lawmakers read a proclamation recognizing his birthday.
[sot]

(( RALPH SMITH/ROANOKE MAYOR: WHEREAS WE IN THE VALLEY RECOGNIZE MONDAY JANUARY 17TH MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR DAY IN THE ROANOKE VALLEY. ))
[out q=]

King was also remembered by those who've only read of his contributions including this young girl who won a Hollins University essay contest... an essay that included some of King's most famous words.
[sot]

(( FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, I'M FREE AT LAST. )) Words many hope will never be forgotten. Teresa Hamilton, NEWS 7, Roanoke. ))

[Web-Nursery]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=noon]
[WRITER=jsu]
[TAPE#=00-44 TC1:30:41]
[GRAPHIC=None]


Some newborns are making their debut on the internet.
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Roanoke]


It's all part of Carilion's new online nursery.
If the parents give their permission -- Carilion will post the baby's first picture on the site for 90 days.
The web page is also interactive allowing viewers to leave messages.
As a safety precaution pictures are not released until the baby has left the hospital.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT7:09:30]
[IN Q=Once the picture goes out]

((BETH DOWDY/DIR. OF WOMEN'S SERVICES:ONCE THE PICTURE GOES OUT THE PARENTS HAVE THE ABILITY TO PASSWORD CODE FOR THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO REACH THAT SITE. THE LAST NAME IS NOT USED AND THERE ARE NO IDENTIFYING FACTORS BEYOND THE FIRST AND MIDDLE NAME))
[SUPER=01-Beth Dowdy/Women's Services Director]
[RUNS=19]
[OUT Q=first and middle name]
(------------)
[VO-NAT]


Five week-old Justin Stephen Reed has his picture on the site -- and he's already received lots of message from loved ones.
(///// SOT /////)
[SOT7:20:53]
[IN Q=My mom was excited cause]

((STEPHANIE REED/JUSTIN'S MOM: MY MOM WAS EXCITED CAUSE SHE GOT TO PRINT THE PICTURE AND HAD HIM ON THE REFRIGERATOR WITH THE FIRST WEEK, EVERYBODY THOUGH IT WAS A NEAT IDEA))
[SUPER=01-Stephanie Reed/Justin's Mom]
[RUNS=08]
[OUT Q= A neat idea]
(----------------)
[VO-NAT]


Parents can customize their baby's website by changing the background and adding captions underneath the picture.
(XXXXXXXX)

[WIPE TO WEBWATCH FULL]
You can find a link to Carilion's online nursery by going to the Webwatch section of our homepage at WDBJ-7-dot-com.
(------------)



[Australia-Storm]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
[NEWSCAST=Noon]
[WRITER=kmc]
[TAPE#=net]
[GRAPHIC=none]


Sydney, Australia is a natural disaster area--
(------------)
[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Sydney, Australia;]


Today's freak wind storm has caused massive damage in Sydney and surrounding regions.
High winds uprooted trees, knocked down power lines, and left 78- thousand homes without electricity.
Wind gusts reached as high as 70- miles-per- hour along the coast.
Meanwhile, dozens of brush fires added insult to injury after record high temperatures yesterday.
Officials say there were no deaths or serious injuries as a result of the wind storm. (------------) Power companies say most customers should get their lights back on by late today or tomorrow.