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This Hour: Latest Virginia news, sports, business and entertainment

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COMMONWEALTH TRANSPORTATION

Va. transportation plan makes debut Wednesday

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The wraps are coming off the latest update of Virginia's six-year transportation plan.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is scheduled to release the draft plan on Wednesday at a meeting in Richmond. The plan allocates funding for essential highway, bridge, rail and other transportation projects for the next six fiscal years, starting July 1.

The program is updated annually to reflect the latest revenue projections and other priorities.

The draft program will be posted online Wednesday at http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/syp-default.asp.

Once the plan is presented, Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne will take it on the road for nine public hearings. The first is scheduled Thursday in Chesapeake. Other hearings are planned in Bristol, Fairfax, Staunton, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Culpeper, Lynchburg and Salem.

VIRGINIA TECH-MCAULIFFE

Va. Tech massacre's 7th anniversary to be marked

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The victims of the April 16, 2007, massacre at Virginia Tech will be remembered at ceremonies in Richmond and Blacksburg.

One remembrance is scheduled Wednesday in Richmond's Capitol Square. Gov. Terry McAuliffe's chief of staff, Paul Regan, and Secretary of Education Anne Holton are scheduled to speak near the bell tower. The bell will be sounded following the reading of the names of each victim. The names will be read by Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran.

Later Wednesday morning, McAuliffe will attend the Virginia Tech Day of Remembrance on the Blacksburg campus.

Student gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh) killed 32 students and faculty in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. He killed himself after the rampage.

APCO RATE REVIEW

Va regs set hearings on Appalachian Power rates

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia regulators have scheduled hearings on rates that Appalachian Power charges customers for generation, distribution, and transmission services.

The State Corporation Commission has set a Sept. 16 hearing in Richmond to review the electric provider's rates. Any changes would take effect in early 2015.

Appalachian Power is proposing to increase the monthly residential customer charge from $8.35 to $16. Customers pay that amount regardless of how much electricity they use. To offset the charge, the company wants to lower the base rate for each kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed.

Appalachian Power also is seeking to establish two residential energy-efficiency programs.

The company additionally is asking to lower the rate related to renewable energy. A hearing on that request is set for Aug. 26.

Appalachian Power serves about 500,000 customers in Virginia.

COLLEGE SPEECH LAWSUIT

Va. community colleges relax speech restrictions

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Community College System has relaxed its policy governing student speech and demonstrations on campus.

Spokesman Jeff Kraus says the executive committee of the system's governing board adopted a new policy Tuesday. It takes effect immediately.

The changes were made after a Thomas Nelson Community College student filed a lawsuit claiming his free-speech rights were violated when he was barred from preaching on campus. The lawsuit is still pending. Also, a new law taking effect July 1 limits public colleges' authority to restrict student speech.

Kraus says the new policy essentially eliminates so-called free-speech zones, which confined student expression to designated areas. It also says colleges can require one-day notice to reserve campus facilities for a demonstration. The old policy required four days' notice.

FALSE RESUMES-SETTLEMENT

Defense contractor agrees to $1.1M settlement

BALTIMORE (AP) - Federal officials say a Virginia defense contractor has agreed to pay $1.1 million to resolve allegations that the company falsified its employees' qualifications to overbill the government.

The settlement between Computer Sciences Corp. of Falls Church and the federal government was announced by Maryland's U.S. Attorney's Office on Tuesday.

Authorities say Computer Sciences, which designs and operates satellite and wireless network services, had a contract with Aberdeen Proving Ground. U.S. officials say Computer Sciences submitted false resumes for employees to qualify them for higher paying positions.

TOBACCO PAYMENTS

Tobacco cos. make payments under state settlement

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The nation's top cigarette makers say they've made annual payments as part of a settlement in which some companies are paying states billions for smoking-related health care costs.

Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette maker, said Tuesday it made its payment of $3.3 billion as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. It's owned by Richmond-based Altria Group Inc.

No. 2 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco paid $1.77 billion. It's owned by Reynolds American Inc., based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

No. 3 Lorillard Inc., based in Greensboro, N.C., paid $1.1 billion.

All three companies deposited the part of their payments into a disputed account as allowed under the settlement.

Public health officials have long criticized states for using only a small portion of settlement money to fund tobacco-prevention programs.

QUARTERBACK BEATEN

Virginia State player pleads guilty to assault

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - A Virginia State football player has pleaded guilty to assaulting Winston-Salem State's starting quarterback during a luncheon last November.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Martin said Lamont Britt pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of simple assault.

Judge Denise Hartsfield sentenced Britt to 45 days in jail, suspended for one year, probation for a year, and imposed the condition that he complete or be in the process of completing his education. Hartsfield also ordered Britt to cooperate with any continued investigations.

An arrest warrant accuses Britt of hitting WSSU quarterback Rudy Johnson in the face and head in a restroom last Nov. 15 during the CIAA awards luncheon, one day before the two schools were to meet for the league championship. CIAA officials canceled the game after the fight.

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