Week in review

News | Troubled texts return, rabid animals, and counterfeiter charged
by Eric Burk
Posted 9/23/11, 04:42 pm

Troubled texts return

The state Board of Education signed off Thursday on overhauled versions of "Our Virginia: Past and Present" and "Our America to 1865," two textbooks that initially were riddled with factual, grammatical and typographical errors, including an erroneous claim that thousands of black people fought on behalf of the Confederacy.

The new versions were reviewed by a state committee that included a teacher, a content specialist and a subject-matter expert. Members of the public also weighed in with comments this summer, and historians pointed out numerous errors that remained including pre-Civil War maps showing Virginia and West Virginia as separate states and a reference to the United States "Navel" Academy. They also expressed continuing concerns about the books and the fact that the author isn't a historian.

Absentee Applications Accepted

Applications for Virginian absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election are now being accepted. Applications are available on the state Board of Elections website at http://www.sbe.virginia.gov. They must be submitted to local general registrar offices. The application deadline is Nov. 1. The last day to vote absentee at a registrar's office is Nov. 5. The last day to register to vote for the election is Oct. 17.

Rabies Cases Confirmed

The Tazewell County Health Department says a bat and a skunk were tested Sept. 19 and both were infected with rabies. There have been a total seven cases confirmed in the county this year. The bat bit a resident in the Middle Creek Area, while the skunk was found in the Burke's Gaden community. A local resident's dogs killed the skunk before humans were exposed.

Counterfeiter Charged

A federal grand jury in Richmond indicted 30-year-old Belal Amin Alsaidi this week on charges he resold apparel and shoes he allegedly bought in New York and knew were counterfeit. The indictment says the goods had fake trademarks for companies such as Nike, Lacoste and Coogi. He's charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Storm Simulation

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and several state agencies will use the Gathright Dam near Covington to simulate a storm event on the Jackson River Sept. 28. As part of an ongoing study, the controlled release will test whether algae can be effectively removed and water quality can be improved by simulating storms that occur in late summer and early fall. The river's flow will be increased to 3,500 cubic feet per second. The corps says the water level downstream will rise up to 5 feet in some sections but remain below flood stage.

Foreign Tourists Spending Record Amounts

Travelers from overseas spent a record $321 million in Virginia in 2010, up by more than 12 percent from the previous year. Gov. Bob McDonnell's office on Tuesday cited figures from Capital Region USA, which reported that tourism spending by international visitors increased by $35 million from 2009. The group also reported that 575,000 Canadians traveled to Virginia last year, and spent more than $133 million, up 16 percent from 2009, reflecting Virginia Tourism Corp.'s efforts to attract Canadians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.