Week in review

News | Flag flap, Irene's aftermath, sheriff charged with embezzlement
by Eric Burk
Posted 9/02/11, 03:41 pm

Flag flying flap

About 100 people rallied Thursday evening in opposition to a proposal to limit the flying of the Confederate flag in Lexington. The Sons of Confederate Veterans organized the "Save our Flags" gathering before the city, which was considering an ordinance to limit flags on downtown poles to just those of the United States, Virginia and the city of Lexington. The proposal has angered defenders of the divisive Southern symbol. It would not limit the flag's display elsewhere. The city received hundreds of complaints the last time Confederate flags were planted in holders on lights poles, in January to mark Lee-Jackson Day, a state holiday.

Irene's Aftermath

Although Irene hit only the easternmost parts of Virginia, about 144,000 households and businesses are still without power in Virginia, including 115,000 in the Richmond metropolitan area. Dominion Virginia Power says it expects to restore electricity to 90 to 95 percent of all customers by the end of the day Friday, with the most damaged areas completed Saturday. More than 1 million Virginia customers were without power at the peak of the outages.

Other effects of Irene include a handful of fatalities; severe coastal property damage, a weak tornado in Virginia Beach, and hazardously high bacteria levels at beaches in Newport News and Norfolk.

New justice sworn in

On Thursday Elizabeth A McClanahan was sworn in as the Virginia Supreme Court's newest justice.

A Buchanan County native and cancer survivor who lives in Abingdon with her husband and their two children, McClanahan was recently elected by the General Assembly to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Lawrence Koontz. Another vacancy created by the death of Justice Leroy Hassell was filled with the election of Cleo Powell, who will be formally sworn in next month. Gov. Bob McDonnell praised McClanahan. "You have a servant's heart, and a heart for people," McDonnell told McClanahan before she placed her hand on a Bible held by her children to take the oath.

Deer feeding ban

From Sept 1 until January, it is illegal to feed deer in Virginia. The ban primarily overlaps hunting season in Virginia, when conflicts can occur between hunters and people who put out feed for deer to enjoy. The feeding ban extends year-round in several localities to combat the spread of chronic wasting disease. Those localities are the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, and in the city of Winchester.

Sheriff charged with embezzlement

Middlesex County Sheriff Guy L. Abbott has been indicted on embezzlement and other charges. A special grand jury indicted Abbott on Thursday on 25 felony counts. In addition to embezzlement, Abbott is charged with bribery and misuse of public assets; the crimes are alleged to have occurred from 2000-2008. Abbott is scheduled to appear in Middlesex County Circuit Court on Sept. 7. Abbott has served as the county's sheriff since Jan. 1, 2000, and is seeking re-election this year.

Constitutional claimant

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson on Tuesday dismissed most of the constitutional claims raised by Aaron Tobey, 21, of Charlottesville, who was arrested after stripping down to his running shorts during an airport checkpoint protest. Tobey was detained on Dec. 30 after partially disrobing to display part of the text of the Constitution's Fourth Amendment handwritten on his chest as a protest against controversial TSA tactics, including enhanced pat-downs and the use of whole-body imaging scanners that he believes violate the Constitution's protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Hudson tossed out the majority of the lawsuit, including claims against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and TSA Director John Pistole. However, Tobey's claim that the TSA screeners at the incident violated his free speech rights still stands.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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