Virginia has a reputation for having the most restrictive deadline for convicted felons who are trying to prove their innocence.
But that may soon change.
Yesterday, the House of Delegates approved a bill that extends the 21-day rule to a 90-day rule.
It would give those seeking to prove their innocence ten additional weeks to submit new evidence.
Opponents say ninety days is still not long enough to help those wrongfully convicted.
[IN Q=INNOCENCE SHOULD ALWAYS TRUMP]
((DEL. KEN MELVIN/D-PORTSMOUTH: INNOCENCE SHOULD ALWAYS TRUMP FINALITY. I DON'T KNOW WHO COULD ARGUE WITH THAT. IF YOU'RE INNOCENT YOU SHOULDN'T BE IN THE PENITENTIARY.))
[SUPER=01-Del. Ken Melvin/(D) Portsmouth; :00]
[SUPER=01-Del. Dave Albo/(R) Springfield; :10]
[OUT Q=IS A DISASTER.]
The bill would do nothing to help Aleck Carpitcher.
The Roanoke County man is serving a 38-year prison term for sex crimes that his accuser now says never occurred.
According to an independent auditor, the embezzlement of more than 800-thousand dollars from Henry County's Public Service Authority was the work of one thief.
A Maryland accounting firm concluded that former county administrator Sid Clower acted alone.
But it adds some P-S-A employees made the fraud easier by turning a blind eye.
Clower is serving a 15-month sentence.
He'll be eligible for release in August.
The accounting firm recommends a long list of changes, including tighter controls on P-S-A money and thorough employee background checks.
Some of the state's tax revenue will be coming back to the area this year, to help restore a century-old theater.
Yesterday, Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte announced Congress has included in its latest spending bill more than 200-thousand dollars for the Academy of Music in Lynchburg.
The Academy is in the midst of a nine-million dollar renovation and expansion, which it hopes to complete by the year 2005.
Organizers say the project is crucial to Lynchburg's downtown revitalization.
In a little less than two weeks, students around the state are scheduled to take a portion of the standards of learning exam.
But with so many snow days, the state education officials are considering delaying the test by a week or more.
Students in 5th, 8th and 11th grade are scheduled to take the writing exam beginning March 3rd.
Yesterday, state education officials contacted school systems around Virginia for input including Roanoke County where students have missed eleven days.
[in q=Not every]
((DAVID WYMER/TESTING AND REMEDIATION ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR; NOT EVERY SCHOOL DIVISION IN THE STATE IS GOING TO BE IMPACTED THE SAME WAY BY THE WEATHER INTERRUPTIONS, I THINK THEY'RE LOOKING AT REALLY THREE OPTIONS, MAINTAINING THE SCHEDULE, MOVING IT BACK OR YOU KNOW GIVING THE SCHOOLS SYSTEMS THE OPTION TO EITHER KEEP IT WHERE IT IS OR MOVE IT BACK.))
[SUPER=01-David Wymer/Testing & Remediation Associate Director; :00]
[out q= move it back. ]
Virginia is somewhat limited in what it can do because the essay section of the test is supposed to be administered to students on the same day, because all schools in the state use the same exam.
State officials are expected to make a decision either today or Friday.
The harsh winter has also made a big impact on local budgets this year.
The city of Roanoke has replenished its supplies of salt twice this week alone, and officials predict they'll need more before the threat of snow has passed.
Roanoke budgeted more than 200- thousand dollars for snow removal this year, but that won't be nearly enough.
City officials say they'll need 250- thousand dollars more to pay for chemicals and overtime.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=In fact, this time last year]
((DARLENE BURCHAM/ROANOKE CITY MANAGER: IN FACT THIS TIME LAST YEAR, WE ACTUALLY BOUGHT AN EXCESS SALT SUPPLY. SO WE WERE IN GOOD STEAD FOR THE SNOWS THAT WE HAVE HAD, BUT HAVING VERY QUICKLY GONE TO THE FARMER'S ALMANAC AFTER READING HOW GOOD A PREDICTOR IT WAS FOR LAST WEEKEND'S SNOW, I DON'T THINK WE'RE OVER IT YET.))
[OUT Q=don't think we're over it yet.]
City council approved the added expense, and praised employees who have been working long hours to clear city streets.
About 450 new jobs are headed to the Roanoke Valley.
Governor Warner helped local officials welcome two new companies yesterday.
The Vidette Groups is opening in downtown Roanoke at the InSystems Technologies building.
The web-based sales firm will hire one-hundred people by Fall.
Sales representatives will sell advertising space on the Internet to companies.
(///// SOT /////)
[IN Q=this is]
((GOVERNOR MARK WARNER/(D) VIRGINIA; THIS IS LIVING PROOF THAT THE KIND OF KNOWLEDGE BASED JOBS THAT MAYBE IN THE PAST WOULDN'T HAVE CHOSE ROANOKE AND WOULD HAVE STAYED IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA OR THE RESEARCH TRIANGLE BUT BECAUSE OF THE BROAD BAND CONNECTIVITY BECAUSE OF FIBER OPTICS WE CAN HAVE THIS BUSINESS.))
[OUT Q=CAN HAVE THIS BUSINESS.]
Meanwhile in the County, Marvin Windows and Doors says an available workforce and quality of life are the reasons it's building a new production facility here.
The building, to go up in the Valley Gateway Commerce Park on Route 460 East, will employ about 150 people within two and half years and 200-more within five-years.
The location will manufacture the company's integrity line of windows and doors.
Marvin will hire some professional positions this year while assembly line positions will be filled early next year.
A new business has ruined the health of a popular fitness center in Radford.
The Carilion Radford Wellness and Fitness Center says it will close its doors April 30th.
Officials say the center began losing business after the city built a new parks and recreation center, which offers many of the same services for free.
Although Carilion is a non-profit organization, officials say some its subsidiaries are NOT.
Nearly 50-workers will lose their jobs.
Officials say the facility will donate most of its equipment to the parks and recreation center.
The drive to the D-M-V will become shorter for Bedford County residents.
The department will re-open its Bedford Customer Service Center later today.
[VO-NAT From 02-42 1:16:19]
The office was one of a dozen shut down last October as a budget-cutting measure. Now it is among the first six to re-open.
It means that anyone needing D-M-V services in the Bedford area no longer has to drive to Roanoke or Lynchburg.
The department promises to re-open the Rocky Mount center four weeks from today.