Service dog gets his own adorable yearbook photo at Virginia HS

Service dog gets his own adorable yearbook photo at Virginia HS

A beloved service dog at a Virginia high school has taken the internet by storm after he earned his very own yearbook photo alongside the rest of the junior class.

Alpha follows 16-year-old Andrew Schalk to Stafford High School in Falmouth and detects when the diabetic teens’s blood sugar is too high or low through his incredible sense of smell.

To the school’s surprise, the yearbook team agreed to photograph the black dog, who was captured looking adorably apprehensive in the bottom half of the frame right next to his owner.

‘He has saved my life multiple times already, by waking me up in the middle of the night to extremely low blood sugars, which are very dangerous,’ he added.

Schalk, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, said his service dog has saved his life several times.

‘The amazing thing about Alpha is that he knows 20 to 40 minutes before my blood sugar actually does go low or high due to his amazing sense of smell,’ Schalk told Buzzfeed.

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Amber Alert Expires for Virginia Mom and Baby; Both Remain Missing

Amber Alert Expires for Virginia Mom and Baby; Both Remain Missing

An Amber Alert for a missing 8-month-old baby and her mother has been “terminated in accordance with AMBER Alert policy,” Virginia State Police say, but the two remain missing.

Keir Johnson, 34, and her baby, Chloe, may have been abducted April 30 as they headed to a nearby beach for a walk, police in Hampton, Virginia, have said.

Authorities did not immediately issue an Amber Alert. However, developments in the case later led investigators to believe Keir and Chloe Johnson may have been abducted. Police issued an Amber Alert for the two May 11.

However, Amber Alerts last for just seven days, so the alert for the Johnsons has now expired, police said Thursday night.

According to WAVY-TV, she was taking Keir Johnson was taking Chloe to Buckroe Beach for a walk when the two disappeared. No one has seen or heard from them since.

Keir Johnson was last seen in the 1900 block of Hastings Drive, driving a black 2013 Kia Optima with Virginia tags VAW-2197.

On May 14, police in Newport News found the car they believed Johnson was driving, nearly 10 miles away from where she was last seen.

Johnson and her daughter are considered endangered.

“Keir and Chloe’s family are concerned due to the length of time that has passed since they last had contact with them. It is out of the norm for Keir to be gone for an extended amount of time and to not make contact with family or friends,” the Hampton Police Department said in a release.

Keir Johnson is 4 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing blue jeans, a T-shirt and glasses.

Chloe Johnson is 2 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 20 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes. A clothing description was not available.

“I need to know where they are, and I need someone to help me find them,” Keir Johnson’s mother said in a video posted on the police department’s Facebook page last week. “I want her to come home now. Right now.”

Anyone with information about their whereabouts is asked to call 911, 757-727-6505 or 888-LOCK-U-UP.

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  Forest, Va News  Breaking News for Forest, Va Continually Updated

  Forest, Va News  Breaking News for Forest, Va Continually Updated

As a woman, you face challenges related to your health every day. You are ruled by your hormones that fluctuate over the years, dropping dramatically as you approach menopause. Keeping your weight under control can be a struggle. If you want to trim your body down to your ideal weight and maintain it, you need to drop some bad habits that are working against you. Once you get your body on the right track, you can watch those unwanted pounds melt away.


Brewery Makes Beer from ‘Toilet Water’

Would you drink beer made from toilet water?

The brewers at one popular brewery in California are betting you would.

Stone Brewing of San Diego unveiled a new beer made from water that “comes from the toilet,” according to </span>ABC 10 News in San Diego.

Granted, the water for the brew, called Full Circle Pale Ale, is not made from water directly from the toilet, but it does use recycled water from the Pure Water San Diego program, the channel reported.</span>


Trump Welcomes Iraqi PM Ahead of Coalition Meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Iraq’s prime minister and a large Iraqi delegation to the White House on Monday, for talks aimed at further coordinating efforts to defeat Islamic State extremists in northern Iraq.

As the meeting opened, Trump praised Iraqi government efforts to face down the extremist group, and then told Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that he hoped to discuss the “vacuum” created when IS fighters seized control of large swaths of northern and western Iraq in 2014.


FBI Director Debunks Trump Claim that Obama Wiretapped Him

FBI Director James Comey has debunked President Donald Trump’s explosive claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him in the weeks before last year’s presidential election and also confirmed that his agency is investigating whether Trump campaign aides criminally colluded with Russian interests to help Trump win.

“We don’t have any information that supports (Trump’s) tweets” claiming that Obama eavesdropped on him at his Trump Tower headquarters in New York, Comey told the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.


IRS, States and Tax Industry Warn of Last-Minute Email Scams

IRS, States and Tax Industry Warn of Last-Minute Email Scams

IR-2017-64, March 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned both tax professionals and taxpayers of last-minute phishing email scams, especially those requesting last-minute deposit changes for refunds or account updates.

As the 2017 tax filing season winds down to the April 18 deadline, tax-related scams of various sorts are at their peak.


First National Bank Reports 4q Profit

First National Bank Reports 4q Profit

The Altavista-based parent company of First National Bank, Pinnacle Bankshares Corporation, reported Friday a fourth-quarter profit of $734,000, or 48 cents per basic and diluted share, down 27.1 percent from $1,007,000 million, or 66 cents per basic and diluted share, during the same period last year.

Total loans increased 11.5 percent from $306,088,000 at the end of 2015 to $341,321,000 at the end of 2016. Total assets rose 18.5 percent from $371,261,000 to $440,104,000. Total deposits rose 20.6 percent from $332,403,000 to $399,743,000.

Stockholders’ equity rose 5.1 percent from $34,782,000 to $36,549,000 between the end of 2015 and the end of 2016, and book value, which is the company’s stockholders’ equity divided by its number of shares, increased 4.16 percent from $23.05 to $24.01.

The bank company’s net interest margin in the fourth quarter dropped from 3.93 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 3.53 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, although the bank noted its year-to-date net interest margin increased from 3.63 percent to 3.7 percent. Net interest margin is the difference between the interest income a bank earns and what it pays out to depositors; it is one measure of a bank’s success.

In November, Pinnacle Bankshares declared a cash dividend of 10 cents per share. It paid out Dec. 2 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 18. It was the 17th consecutive quarter the company paid a dividend. Assuming a share price of $28, the company has a dividend yield of 1.43 percent.

First National Bank, founded in 1908, operates eight branches in Lynchburg and the counties of Amherst, Bedford, Campbell and Pittsylvania, including two in the town of Altavista.

The bank is expanding into Lynchburg with a new Lynchburg headquarters on Odd Fellows Road. It has been renovating its Timberlake Road branch and relocating its Old Forest Road branch to a newly constructed building down the street.

Pinnacle Bankshares Corporation (OTCQX:PPBN) stock closed at $28.06 per share Friday, up 0.21 percent from the day before.

Bedford Prosecutor Seeking City Commonwealth’s Attorney Post Says Lynchburg Needs to Tackle Crime Rates

Bedford Prosecutor Seeking City Commonwealth’s Attorney Post Says Lynchburg Needs to Tackle Crime Rates

After almost three years pursuing criminal cases against defendants in Amherst and Bedford counties, Timothy Griffin wants the job of top prosecutor for the city of Lynchburg.

Griffin, 32, a resident of Lynchburg and an active player in area Republican politics, is seeking the GOP nod to run for commonwealth’s attorney.

Griffin jumped into the race shortly after incumbent Michael Doucette said last week he would not run for re-election but instead leave office after his term expires Dec. 31.

Doucette has served as Lynchburg commonwealth’s attorney for 11 years.

The news was a sudden opening for Griffin, who issued a news release within 12 hours of Doucette’s, saying for months Griffin had been “setting the stage to challenge the status quo” in the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

Griffin, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Bedford County, told The News & Advance this week he wants to tamp down crime rates and make Lynchburg a safer place through several initiatives he plans to unveil this year.

He would not say directly whether he had intended to challenge Doucette had the incumbent sought re-election. But Griffin made clear he thought it was time for new leadership in the office, which prosecutes all alleged criminal offenses in the city.

Griffin said it requires a concerted effort among area prosecutors, the Lynchburg Police Department, social services and other entities to reduce crime rates effectively.

“There’s a lot of actors. Everyone is working so hard,” he said. “I think we can bring something to the commonwealth attorney’s office.”

Griffin, a Liberty University graduate, attended Appalachian School of Law and served in criminal law for two years before becoming a prosecutor.

In May 2014, he was named an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Amherst County; the following year, he took his current post in Bedford County.

While saying Lynchburg crime rates must be reduced, Griffin credited the efforts of police under their current leadership with new initiatives aimed at reducing crime.

“I think LPD’s doing a phenomenal job,” he said. Griffin in particular lauded the community policing initiative Police Chief Raul Diaz has spearheaded.

“I really appreciate the chief’s vision for where he wants to take the city in that manner,” Griffin said.

In the week since announcing, Griffin has picked up two key endorsements in GOP circles. Rep. Tom Garrett, R-5th District,threw his support behind Griffin on Thursday, and Virgil Goode, former Republican congressman for the same district, endorsed him a few days before. The 5th District covers part of Lynchburg.

Griffin joined both the current and former congressmen on the campaign trail stumping for Republicans last year.

Garrett said in a news release that after working first-hand with Griffin on the congressional race, “I have full confidence in his ability to represent the people well and uphold the laws and Constitutional principles of our great Commonwealth.”

Griffin was the first candidate to make an announcement regarding Doucette’s seat.

Throwing his hat in the ring set him up for a possible electoral competition with Chuck Felmlee, chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney for Lynchburg. Felmlee, for the past 11 years the second in command of the prosecutor’s office, indicated last week he intended to run. He had not formally entered the race as of Thursday afternoon.

It also remains unclear who else may enter the race, with the election still nine months away. Republicans hold a primary June 13, and Griffin is seeking their nomination. Griffin said the local GOP committee will decide the method of nominations.

Gladys Man Wins $3 Million in Fortune Scratcher Lottery Game

Gladys Man Wins $3 Million in Fortune Scratcher Lottery Game

A Campbell County man won $3 million Jan. 31 after purchasing two $3,000,000 Fortune Scratcher tickets, according to a news release by the Virginia Lottery.

Tim Nash, of Gladys, who works in the lumber industry, either can receive the $3 million in installments during the next 30 years or get a lump sum of $1.6 million in cash, before taxes. Nash currently is consulting with financial experts to determine the best option for him, according to the release.

Nash bought the winning ticket at Community Mini Mart on Pigeon Run Road in Gladys. The Lottery will award the store a $10,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket, the release states.

The release said after Nash scratched his first ticket and realized his success, he ran inside his home to tell his wife.

 “I didn’t even scratch the other one,” Nash said in the news release. “I was so nervous I couldn’t scratch it!”

The $3,000,000 Fortune Scratcher has prizes that range from $20 to $3 million. The release states there is a third ticket worth $3 million still circulating, as Nash is only the second person to claim the top prize.

The odds of winning the top prize are 1 in 1,305,600, and the odds of winning any prize are 1 in 2.97, according to the release.

Local Colleges Issue Guidance to Students in Response to Immigration Executive Order

Local Colleges Issue Guidance to Students in Response to Immigration Executive Order

Local colleges are issuing guidance to students ensnared in an executive order issued by President Donald Trump to prohibit citizens of seven majority Muslim nations from entering the U.S.

The executive order, issued Friday, is titled “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry To The United States” and mandated a 90-day ban on U.S. entry by nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order also may prevent nationals from those countries from re-entering the U.S., which could affect those who choose to travel outside of the U.S. at this time.

Both President Bradley W. Bateman, of Randolph College, and President Kenneth R. Garren, of Lynchburg College, issued statements Tuesday addressing the executive order and its uncertainties.

 “As I write, we find ourselves in a rapidly changing environment. The full extent of how the Executive Order will affect us is unknown. Likewise, the full extent of the legal challenges to the order is not yet clear. While we do not know all the consequences of the Executive Order on faculty, staff, and students, we are reaching out to those who we think are most likely to be affected,” read part of the statement from Bateman posted on the Randolph College website.

A similar message from Garren was posted on the Lynchburg College website.

“While Lynchburg College reviews the Executive Order and its impact on our students, faculty, and staff, I recommend that members of our community who may be affected avoid traveling outside of the U.S.,” Garren advised as part of a longer statement to students, faculty and staff.

Bryan Gentry, director of media relations for LC, noted via email concerned students should contact the international and study abroad adviser, while faculty should contact human resources.

In an email from Brenda Edson, director of college relations at Randolph College, Edson said some affiliated with the school had been affected but did not disclose further details about them.

“There are members of the Randolph College community affected by the President’s Executive Order that bars any new refugees from entering the country or citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. We will not identify those individuals publicly or discuss their numbers,” Edson wrote.

According to the Randolph College website, “international students make up 12 percent of our student body and represent 30 nations.”

Edson added the executive order does not change anything within the Randolph community, and the college “does not discriminate nor allow discrimination on the basis of religion or nationality.”

According to William Wegert, dean of International Student Programs at Liberty University, LU plans to issue guidance to three students from majority Muslim countries included in the travel ban.

“All of Liberty’s students from countries affected by the president’s orders are now in the U.S. for the spring semester, so they are not facing any critical situations at the present time. We are participating in a conference call Wednesday on this subject put on by the National Association of College and University Attorneys and expect to get the latest information during that call. We realize this might be an unsettling time for some of our students and we will provide guidance to them as we gather accurate information,” Wegert wrote to The News & Advance on Tuesday.

Since the rollout of the executive order Friday, it has been met with controversy and confusion.

Sally Yates, formerly the acting attorney general, was dismissed by the Trump administration Monday after instructing the Justice Department not to defend the executive order. Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, then was sworn in to replace Yates and has stated he will advise the DOJ to defend Trump’s executive order.

Now Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has asked to join Aziz v. Trump et al., a pending case against the executive order filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. A commonwealth legal brief filed Tuesday reads: “That order immediately led to the violation of the constitutional and statutory rights of numerous residents of the United States. Because innumerable Virginia residents have been and will continue to be subjected to degrading and unlawful treatment under the Executive Order, the Commonwealth is compelled to intervene in this case.”

Another issue at stake for colleges is the possible revenue loss from tuition paid by students from the seven countries included in the executive order. According to College Factual, a research website focused on higher education, colleges and universities could lose up to $700 million in tuition because of the executive order.

Garrett, Goodlatte support Trump’s immigration order

Garrett, Goodlatte support Trump’s immigration order

RICHMOND — Rep. Tom Garrett, R-5th District, joined many fellow Republicans on Monday in backing President Donald Trump’s immigration order, although he lightly criticized the administration’s roll-out.

Garrett, a freshman Homeland Security Committee member, said he learned through news reports about Trump’s Friday order to ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entering the United States for 90 days. The order also suspends refugee admissions into the country for 120 days.

“It was a complete messaging failure by the administration in how they put it out,” Garrett said in a phone interview Monday evening. “… Once we figured out what happened … it wasn’t nearly as ‘the sky is falling’ as some would have us believe.”

The Friday announcement sparked demonstrations by Democrats, pro-immigration advocates and attorneys, including a protest at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. While many people protested the order as a whole, of particular concern were green card holders, who were detained for hours after trying to re-enter the country, according to numerous media reports.

Anyone who has a legal right to be in the United States, including green card holders, only should be detained if there is a reason to believe they as an individual have committed or may commit a crime, Garrett said.

“I think it happened because of the inartful dissemination of the intention of the order,” Garrett said. The “left” overreacted, he said.

Garrett fully supports the order he and other Republicans have called a “pause.”

“ISIS has indicated its wishes to use the refugee system to infiltrate western nations. Our office has received information to substantiate these claims,” Garrett said in a statement. “With this in mind, a temporary pause for further review of the program only serves to fulfill the United States government’s first responsibility to protect its citizens.”

When asked in June on the congressional campaign trail about Trump’s previous call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country, Garrett said he wouldn’t support a religious test but supported one from countries with “an active Muslim war-making effort.”

This order, he said, is not a religious test but one based on nationality.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th District, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees immigration policy, was not consulted ahead of the order’s roll-out, according to a Goodlatte aide. A Goodlatte spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

“It’s sensible to hit pause on admitting foreign nationals and refugees from countries where adequate screening cannot occur, and it’s long past time for the completion of the Entry-Exit system in order to crack down on those who overstay their visas,” Goodlatte said in a statement Friday.

Both congressmen serving the Lynchburg area are in position to contribute to the discussion following the quickly implemented suspension order.

In a statement emailed from a spokeswoman Monday, Goodlatte said he looks forward to working with Trump “to take legislative action in Congress to further enhance border security.”

The Homeland Security Committee has not met yet since the order went out but will later this week, Garrett said.

“I expect it will be a very busy meeting,” he said in the interview.

Cline Bill to Require Recorded Votes Dies on an Unrecorded Vote — Again

Cline Bill to Require Recorded Votes Dies on an Unrecorded Vote — Again

RICHMOND — Without public input, the House Rules Committee quickly cast aside a bill that would require every bill, resolution and budget amendment passing through the House of Delegates receive a recorded vote.

For the second year in a row, the bill died without a clear record of where each committee member stands.

In the 2016 General Assembly, 95 percent of bills killed by the House of Delegates died without a record, according to a report by Transparency Virginia, a coalition of nonprofits. According to the report, 72 percent of the chamber’s bills died in subcommittees.

“That’s where a lot of the actual work happens. It’s where success and failure is determined largely in the House of Delegates,” said Josiah Tillett, a Bedford County planning commissioner and Republican activist who attended the meeting in Richmond on Thursday. Activists, who volunteer for campaigns, and voters who elect legislators deserve to know where politicians stand to keep them accountable, Tillett said.

Failure to record votes in subcommittees protects legislators from tough choices that could anger their base or turn off the general election public, proponents say, a claim recently made by Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William. Marshall called a news conference to try and put public pressure on legislators to give his bill, which would require people only use the bathroom and locker room on their original birth certificate, a recorded vote. The bill died on a voice vote.

Tillett said he came prepared to speak but not necessarily expecting to.

“They would rather conceal their true beliefs on a given issue from the public. It’s safer for them for the coming re-election,” Tillett said.

Members of the House Rules Committee, chaired by Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, and packed with chairmen from the other committees, implied in a series of questions to Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, that recording every vote would be inefficient and too much work for the part-time job.

Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, said the House will field 375 commending and memorial resolutions alone this year, often passed to honor people or sports teams throughout Virginia. And requiring a vote on each of the 382 budget amendments would mean a significant process change, Cox said. The Appropriations Committee operates “in a very compressed time,” Cox said.

“This would be a 50 percent increase in our workload,” said Del. James P. Massie III, R-Henrico. Committee members can require a recorded vote if one-fifth of them agree to order one, he said.

Cline brought the same bill to the same committee last year. Megan Rhyne, Virginia Coalition for Open Government executive director, testified in favor of it then. She was present this year but not offered a chance to speak.

When asked why Virginia residents who came to testify were not offered the opportunity to do so Thursday, Howell said he didn’t know.

“I guess no one stood up and said they wanted to speak,” Howell said. It’s the patron’s responsibility to make that offer, he said.

When asked why nobody got to speak, Cline said he didn’t know.

House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, again asked why Cline hasn’t asked for a rules change on the floor.

“This was the most immediate solution in front of me at the moment,” Cline replied.

Assuming he is re-elected in November, Cline said he could propose the change to the House Republican Caucus ahead of session. He isn’t sure whether he will.

“I will have to consider what my options are,” Cline said. “This is the second year in a row the bill has been defeated. You have to ask yourself how many times you’re gonna keep trying in this direction or whether you’re going to consider trying for something else.”

Gltc Says Farewell to General Manager

Gltc Says Farewell to General Manager

Although he would not be able to enjoy the new building, Josh Baker, outgoing general manager of the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company, promised colleagues he would return to sit in the office—at least for a minute or two.

“I’ll be back. I’ll come visit for sure,” Baker said.

The GLTC Board of Directors said its farewells to Baker during a meeting and a reception held in his honor Wednesday.

Baker has held the position of GLTC general manager since January 2015, and his last day in the position is Friday. Baker will begin serving as the general manager and CEO of the Alexandria Transit Company on Feb. 6.

Assistant General Manager John Rayman is set to serve as GLTC’s interim general manager until Baker’s successor is in place.

GLTC’s general manager and assistant general manager are employees of Cincinnati-based First Transit. First Transit vets new general managers, who then are presented to GLTC’s board of directors for review.

A closed session was held to discuss a personnel matter Wednesday, after which Board President Peggy Whitaker said GLTC anticipates having a new general manager within a month’s time.

In a change of scenery, the board of directors held its meeting in GLTC’s new operations and maintenance facility that currently is under construction on Bradley Drive.

During the open session, Whitaker commended Baker and said the meeting in the new facility was made possible because of Baker’s hard work.

“As I’ve said more than once in public, you are a rising star,” Whitaker said at the reception.

Board member and Lynchburg City Manager Bonnie Svrcek said Baker’s leadership has brought “incredible confidence” to Lynchburg City Council and city staff.

“I guess grabbing hold to his ankles and begging him to stay is out of the question,” board Vice President Glenn McGrath said.

GLTC’s current operations and maintenance facilities are located at 1301 and 1305 Kemper St. Company officials have said the current headquarters is too small and the maintenance area insufficient.

The two-parcel property is listed for sale for $1.1 million.

Construction began on the new 52,000-square-foot operations and maintenance facility on a roughly 12-acre lot on Bradley Drive in May 2015. Total construction costs are $18.8 million.

The building originally was set to reach substantial completion in December, but that milestone was delayed because of the presence of rock that was more extensive than previously anticipated and weather delays.

Substantial completion is expected to occur in February.

In a space assessment that was presented to Lynchburg City Council earlier this month, the two parcels used by GLTC for its current operations and maintenance facilities was suggested as a potential site for a new facility for the Lynchburg Police Department. The police department currently is experiencing space constraints as it operates from multiple buildings in the downtown area.

After the meeting, Svrcek said the city is evaluating the potential use of GLTC’s current administrative space on Kemper Street for components of the police department that currently operate out of the department’s aging West building, which was a former church.