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[VO-NAT]

Political pressure has proven too much for Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott.
Today, he announced he's resigning from his leadership post.
We'll have a live report.
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[ANCHOR=KIMBERLY]


And it was an early Christmas present for state police officers and public schools as Governor Warner presented his spending plan.








[WX-Head]
[ANCHOR=Leo]
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After some much needed rainfall, we're left with partly sunny and breezy conditions to start your weekend. I'll have the forecast details coming up.
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[ANCHOR=Kimberly 2-Shot]


News 7 at Noon starts right now...

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[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
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[VO-NAT]


In a written statement, Trent Lott has confirmed that he's resigning as Senate Republican leader.
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[Lott]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
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Good Afternoon, I'm Kimberly McBroom.
The embattled leader says he's stepping aside ''in the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future of our country.''
Lott got into trouble two weeks ago for comments he made during Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party.
He indicated he supported Thurmond's 19-48 bid for president, which was on a segregationist ticket.
Since then, there's been increasing pressure for him to step down.
Lott, meanwhile, says he will stay on as a senator from Mississippi.
Aleen Sirgany is following this developing story in Washington, D-C, and joins us now with the latest.
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(( Pkge: IT'S OVER.. TRENT LOTT HAS DECIDED TO STEP ASIDE AS SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER, BUT HE WILL STAY ON IN CONGRESS. HE MADE THE DECISION AFTER IT BECAME CLEAR HE NO LONGER HAD THE SUPPORT OF ENOUGH COLLEAGUES TO KEEP THE LEADERSHIP POSITION HE HAS HELD SINCE 1996.
IN A STATEMENT, LOTT SAID " (graphic) "...in the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future of our country."
FOR DAYS, IT HAS BECOME CLEAR THAT THE TIDE WAS TURNING AGAINST HIM. SEVERAL SENATORS PUBLICLY CALLED FOR HIS RESIGNATION .. AND THE WHITE HOUSE REFUSED TO PUBLICLY SUPPORT HIM. THE FINAL NAIL IN THE COFFIN WAS THE MOUNTING SUPPORT FOR ANOTHER CANDIDATE...SENATOR BILL FRIST...WHO HAS CLOSE TIES TO THE PRESIDENT.
THE TROUBLE BEGAN AFTER LOTT SAID THE NATION WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF IF SEGREGATIONIST CANDIDATE STROM THURMOND HAD WON THE WHITE HOUSE IN 1948. LOTT ISSUED NUMEROUS APOLOGIES, BUT THE CONTROVERSY WOULD NOT GO AWAY.
THE VOTE FOR A NEW MAJORITY LEADER WILL TAKE PLACE JANUARY 6TH.))



[Warner-Budget]


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Governor Mark Warner presented a budget today that increases state funding for public schools and avoids layoffs for state police officers.
The governor presented his spending blueprint for the next fiscal year to legislative budget writers who will struggle to close a budget gap of one-point-two BILLION dollars.
Warner's plans call for increasing basic state aid for elementary and secondary education by about 65 MILLION dollars from lottery profits and the state's Literary Fund. The governor also proposed freezing basic health services for the needy, including hospital and nursing home reimbursements, as well as prescription drugs.

[Carvins-Cove]


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Carvins Cove is normally dropping at the end of the year, but as western Virginia looks toward 2003, the reservoir remains on the rise.
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[VO-NAT]
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Carvins Cove hit its historic low in October, when the water level fell to 34 -point- one feet below the spillway.
But with regular rain and the recent snowfall, the city's main reservoir has been filling ever since.
Today, the level stands at 17- point- six feet below the spillway.
There's no word yet from City officials on when they might ease the mandatory water restrictions.
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[11Pulley]


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We could know later today whether remains found in North Carolina are that of a Pittsylvania County woman who has been missing for over 3 years.
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[VO-NAT]


37-year-old Patty Jo Pulley disappeared from her home near Ringgold in May of 1999.
[SUPER=03-Caswell Co., NC/May 1999]


Several searches along the Virginia-North Carolina border helped locate Pulley's car, but no trace of her.
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[ANCHOR=Kim]
[SS=HOLD]


On Wednesday, a passerby spotted human remains near a bridge on Route 158 in Caswell County, North Carolina.
Pittsylvania County authorities have sent along Pulley's dental records on the chance they could help identify the body.

[Newton]


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Authorities have identified the woman who was found dead in Roanoke Wednesday morning.
They say 25- year- old Anna Marie Newton's most recent address was in the Vinton area.
Investigators are now focused on trying to get more information about Newton's life.
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[VO-NAT]


Police released these photos late last night.
A spokesperson said they were taken in 1998 and were on file in the police department.
[SUPER=03-Roanoke/Wednesday Morning]


Newton was found dead in the woods off Shenandoah Avenue Wednesday morning.
The medical examiner still has not determined a cause of death, but investigators are treating the case as suspicious.
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[ANCHOR=Kim]
[SS=HOLD]


Police say they did find one family member in the Vinton area, but that person couldn't add offer much information about the woman.
[Tease1] [HARD MUSIC UNDER]
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]


Still to come on the newscast, the lieutenant governor says he wants the state to quit making localities shoulder the burden of balancing the state budget.
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[VO-NAT ]


Plus residents in Mississippi have to clean up after a tornado strikes a shopping center full of people.
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[Tornadoes]


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Chain saws are buzzing and generators are humming as emergency crews try to clean up damage left by a tornado that whipped through a small Mississippi community.
Elizabeth Sanchez takes us there.
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((
WITH FIVE DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS, PEOPLE IN NEWTON, MISSISSIPPI ARE CLEANING UP INSTEAD OF BUYING THOSE LAST MINITE CHRISTMAS GIFTS.

SOT: ROBERT LATHAM/MISS

"TO SEE A COMMUNITY PULL TOGETHER, MISSISS ARE RESLIENT AND WILL GET THOUGHT THIS, WE REALLY WILL
THE TOWN IS A MESS. A TORNADO...RIPPED THROUGH THURSDAY...BURSTING WINDOWS OF A WALMART STORE AND INJURING 50 SHOPPERS.
AT THE SUBWAY SANDWICH SHOP...CUSTOMERS WERE FINISHING LUNCH.

SOT: CHARLOTTE RIEDER/GM SUBWAY

"THIS MUCH DAMAGE AND NO ONE HURT SERIOUSLY, FROM WHAT I UNDERSTAND IT'S A MIRACLE, A MIRACLE."
WINDS KNOCKED OUT POWER ...CAUSING CREWS TO WORK THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT. THIS MORNING, THE DAMAGE IS EXTENSIVE...ROOFTOPS BLOWN AWAY...FLIPPED TRUCKS AND TREES UPROOTED. MORE THAN 40 BUSINESSES SUFFERED DAMAGE, ABOUT A DOZEN COMPLETELY DESTROYED.
BUT THIS COMMUNITY IS PULLING TOGETHER, MEMBERS OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH WITH THE RED CROSS SET UP A MOBILE KITCHEN AND BEGAN PREPARING FOOD.

SOT: JIM DIDLAKE/BAPTIST CHURCH MEMBER

"WE ALREADY SET OUT BREAKFAST THIS MORNING, SAUSAGE, BISCUIT AND HOY COFFEE."

(STANDUP)))





[West-Storms]


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Meanwhile, gale force winds and driving rains are wreaking havoc on the West Coast.
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[VO-NAT]


Falling trees brought down power lines.
Across Northern California, more than 160- thousand customers lost electricity.
[SUPER=03-San Francisco, CA;]


In San Francisco, the bay overflowed into the streets.
The storm also brought a rare sight, SNOW.
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Back in 19-98, cliffside houses fell into the ocean in nearby Pacifica.
Residents have since learned to be prepared.
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((PETER DEMA/RESIDENT:I'M JUST HOPING GOT MY FINGERS CROSSED THAT THIS WILL ALL PASS. ))
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[VO-NAT]


The National Weather Service thinks the worst of it is over, and the region should start to dry out Sunday.
But forecasters say there are more storms lining up behind this one.
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[11Kaine]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
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Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine wants the state to stop passing the buck to localities.
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[VO-NAT]
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Kaine says the state needs to pay more attention to the costs it pushes off on cities, counties and towns.
So he's proposing legislation to require lawmakers to look at the local fiscal impact of any bill.
If there is a cost to localities, he wants the state to fund it.
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((LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TIM KAINE: IF ITS IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR IT TO BE THE STATE'S POLICY THE STATE OUGHT TO COVER THE COSTS OF IT BUT WE SHOULDN'T JUST BE FORCING LOCAL TAXPAYERS TO PICK UP THE TAB FOR THESE BILLS WHEN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DOESN'T EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH THEY'LL COST.))
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[VO-NAT]


Kaine, a former mayor, says localities are often forced to carry the financial burdens of new initiatives.
He says his proposal will protect local taxpayers from the costs of these unfunded mandates.
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[11College-Cuts]


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State higher education leaders found out early what Governor Mark Warner's budget had in store for them.
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[VO-NAT]
[SUPER=03-Blacksburg/File Tape;]


In a letter to Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, the governor announced he will NOT impose further reductions to higher education.
The news came in response to a letter STEGER wrote on behalf of the Council of Presidents, explaining why higher-ed CANNOT afford additional cuts.
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((LARRY HINCKER/VT UNIVERSITY RELATIONS; THE GOOD NEWS IS THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE INCURRING FURTHER REDUCTIONS BUT THE BAD NEWS IS THAT WE STILL HAVE TO FIND WAYS TO ADAPT TO THE CURRENT BUDGET REALITIES 6:25))
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[VO-NAT]


Virginia Tech has lost about 62-million dollars from state budget cuts this year, and will lose an additional eleven-million next year under those same cuts.
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[Tease2] [SOFT MUSIC UNDER]
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]


Pope John Paul says Mother Teresa was TRULY a miraculous person. We'll tell you what that could mean after the break.
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[VO-NAT ]

and we'll have a story about some young people who are displaying the true spirit of Christmas.
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[New-Pulley]


[ANCHOR=Kim]
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Officials in North Carolina confirm that the body discovered in Caswell County this week is that of a missing Pittsylvania County woman.
Patty Jo Pulley disappeared on a shopping trip in May of 1999.
Autopsy results released this morning confirm that her remains are those discovered two days ago in Caswell County.
Officials are not yet releasing any information on the cause of death.
We'll have more tonight on News-7 at 5 and 6.

[Mother-Teresa]


[ANCHOR=Kimberly]
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Five years after her death, Mother Teresa is closer to becoming a saint.
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[VO-NAT]
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Pope John Paul, the Second has approved a miracle attributed to the nun who dedicated her life to the poor.
The miracle involves an Indian woman with a stomach tumor who recovered after a picture of Mother Teresa was placed on her abdomen.
It's been endorsed by a Vatican committee and formally approved by the pope.
Her beatification (be- atification) ceremony is set for next October.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner died in 19-97 at the age of 87.
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[Students-Car]


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If you need any reminder that the Christmas spirit can still be found, this next story should touch you. And it's a story of high school kids gone GOOD, as Steven Lattimore reports.
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[Brokerage-Houses]


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Sources say a huge settlement involving some of Wall Street's biggest brokerage houses is to be announced today.
They're reportedly nearing a deal to pay almost a billion dollars in a settlement aimed at making sure investors get un-biased information.
It would be one of the biggest fines every levied by securities regulators.
The reported deal includes firms like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch.
The goal is to assure balanced investment information, avoid conflicts of interest, and keep brokerages from inflating their own stock ratings.

[Stocks]


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On Wall Street at Noon, the DOW was UP 121 points. The NASDAQ has gained 15.
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[tease3] [SPORTS MUSIC UNDER]
[ANCHOR=Kimberly]

Coming up in sports...
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[VO-NAT ]

the local high school football season wraps up with a special Friday Football Extra banquet and award ceremony.
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Last night, WDBJ-7 completed 19 seasons of Friday Football Extra with the annual awards banquet.
Steve Mason has more on a special night from the Salem Civic Center.
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[SUPER=01-Brad Bradley/William Campbell Team of the Year; 1:31]
[SUPER=01-Chris Jones/Overall Coach of the Year; 1:49]
[SUPER=01-Marques Moore/Roy Stanley Miller Scholarship Recipient; 2:22]
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[Quickcast]
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