augusta free press news

Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009

Sports: Groh completes staff for 2009, Thursday, 3 p.m.
Virginia Politics: Mims elected AG, Thursday, 3 p.m.
Virginia Politics: Webb introduces health-care legislation for military retirees, Thursday, 3 p.m.
Local News: Salvation Army in Staunton announces food drive, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.
Economy: Initial unemployment claims show surprising increase, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.
Virginia Politics: Deeds green homeowner bill on its way to governor, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.
Sports: VCU knocks off JMU in men’s hoops, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.
Sports: Diamond Dukes upset Maryland, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.



Sports: Groh completes staff for 2009, Thursday, 3 p.m.

Virginia head football coach Al Groh announced today the hiring of long-time veteran college and professional coach Bob Trott. He will coach the Cavalier linebackers. Trott’s appointment fills the final vacancy on the Virginia staff.

Trott comes to Virginia after spending the past five years as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach for Romeo Crennel at the Cleveland Browns. His coaching resume includes other NFL experience with the New England Patriots from 1993 to 1995 and the New York Giants from 1991 to 1992. At both of those franchises, he worked as a defensive assistant while Groh was the team’s defensive coordinator for at least one season.

Trott and Groh first coached together at the Air Force Academy for two seasons starting in 1978. A 1976 graduate of North Carolina, Trott was a three-year letterman at safety for the Tar Heels while Groh served as the team’s linebackers coach under Bill Dooley.

“I have been associated with Bobby when he was a player, and as a colleague on three staffs,” Groh said. ³”He has always been the same guy resourceful, analytical, diligent, and totally committed to the team. He has been successful at the college level and the NFL. Bobby¹s time under Bill Parcels and Romeo Crennel gives him a strong background in our beliefs and systems. He is an excellent fit for Virginia football.”

Trott returns to the collegiate ranks for the first time since working as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Louisiana-Monroe from 2003-2004. He previously worked as the defensive coordinator at Baylor (2002-03), Duke (1996-2001), Clemson (1990) and Arkansas (1989). He also coached defensive backs at each of those schools, including his entire tenure (1984-1989) at Arkansas. His full-time coaching career started at Air Force in 1978 where he coached the defensive line for five years. He was a graduate assistant at North Carolina for the 1976 and 1977 seasons.

“To be back in the ACC and associated again with Al Groh is an exciting combination for me,” Trott said. “To be at the University of Virginia tops it off. I understand and believe in how all these guys think and coach. Al’s teams are highly respected within the NFL for toughness, preparation and player development. I’m anxious for the challenge to add to all of that.”


Virginia Politics: Mims elected AG, Thursday, 3 p.m.

The Virginia General Assembly today formally elected William C. “Bill” Mims as Virginia’s 45th attorney general.

The former chief deputy attorney general, Mims succeeds Bob McDonnell, who resigned on Feb. 20, 2009 to run full-time for governor.

In this position, Mims is responsible for the Office of the Attorney General and its 337 attorneys and staff. He will serve until January 2010, when the new attorney general who will be elected in November is sworn in.

Mims served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1992 through 1997, and in the Virginia Senate from 1998 to 2005, before being tapped by McDonnell as his top lieutenant in January 2006.

“I am honored to serve as attorney general following Bob McDonnell,” Mims said. “Bob McDonnell was an exceptional attorney general, and I plan to continue his legacy by providing the very best legal services for Virginia’s citizens.”

Mims added, “The Office of the Attorney General is the law firm for Virginia’s governmental agencies. I am proud to work with such dedicated public servants.”

A native of Harrisonburg, Mims was educated in the Harrisonburg public schools. He received a degree in history from the College of William & Mary, where he was president of the student body. He also did graduate work in public administration at William & Mary. He has law degrees from George Washington University and Georgetown University.

During his years in the General Assembly, Mims worked as an attorney in Leesburg. Prior to practicing law he served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf and as deputy legislative director to Sen. Paul Trible. He served on the Board of Governors of the Virginia Bar Association from 2002 through 2004, and was a Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at George Mason University from 2002 through 2005.


Virginia Politics: Webb introduces health-care legislation for military retirees, Thursday, 3 p.m.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) today introduced “The Federal and Military Retiree Health Care Equity Act,” to allow federal and military retirees to pay their premiums under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP) with pre-tax dollars.

Since 2000, active federal employees have been afforded the opportunity, known as “premium conversion,” to use pre-tax dollars to pay their premiums under the FEHBP. The benefit is also available to many private sector employees and state and local government employees.

Sen. Webb’s bill would change Section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code to extend this benefit to retired federal workers.

“This is a matter of basic fairness. Our federal and military retirees deserve access to the same quality, affordable health care they received prior to leaving government,” said Sen. Webb. “It’s about time that we pass this important legislation, which has enjoyed overwhelming, bipartisan support for four Congresses. I’m committed to moving this legislation forward in this Congress.”

The legislation has the support of the following organizations representing federal and military retirees: National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE), The Military Coalition, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), National Association of Postmasters, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, National Association of Postal Supervisors, National Federation of Federal Employees, National Association Government Employees, National Rural Letter Carrier Association, National Postal Mail Handlers, American Foreign Service Association, and the American Postal Workers Union.

“Federal and military retirees lose ground every year health insurance premiums skyrocket,” said NARFE president Margaret Baptiste. “The Premium Conversion legislation that Senator Jim Webb has sponsored would help retirees and survivors living on fixed incomes keep pace with rising health insurance costs.”

“We commend Sen. Webb for honoring the service and sacrifices of federal civilian annuitants as well as active duty military personnel and retirees by proposing they receive tax relief which would help them to bear escalating health care costs,” Baptiste added.


Local News: Salvation Army in Staunton announces food drive, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

The Salvation Army – Staunton Corps is conducting a special Lenten Food Drive through Sunday, April 12 (Easter Sunday). All forms of unexpired, non-perishable food are welcome.

While The Salvation Army normally conducts an ambitious food drive each year in October and November in cooperation with numerous local schools, this supplemental effort is necessary to help replenish food supplies that were depleted by the 30 percent increase in families who received Christmas food assistance from The Salvation Army. Because of this increase in demand, the surplus of food left from the Fall Food Drive, which normally supplies The Army’s food pantry for the rest of the year, has only left enough food to meet the anticipated need through mid-April. The goal of this Lenten Food Drive is to re-stock The Army’s shelves with needed items to feed those who are anticipated to need The Salvation Army’s services over the coming Spring and Summer months, when our food supply is normally at its lowest.

Anyone interested in supporting this effort can bring their donation of canned food or financial contributions designated “Food Drive” to The Salvation Army during normal business hours. In addition, any customer to our Family Thrift Store, located at 1702 W. Beverley St., who donates two canned food items will receive a free article of clothing.

Groups, businesses, and other organizations are encouraged to partner in this effort. Anyone interested should contact The Salvation Army at 540.885.8157 for more information.


Economy: Initial unemployment claims show surprising increase, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

In the week ending Feb. 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 667,000, an increase of 36,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 631,000. The 4-week moving average was 639,000, an increase of 19,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 620,000.

The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.8 percent for the week ending Feb. 14, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the prior week’s unrevised rate of 3.7 percent.

The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Feb. 14 was 5,112,000, an increase of 114,000 from the preceding week’s revised level of 4,998,000. The 4-week moving average was 4,932,250, an increase of 89,250 from the preceding week’s revised average of 4,843,000.

The fiscal year-to-date average for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment for all programs is 4.466 million.


Virginia Politics: Deeds green homeowner bill on its way to governor, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Creigh Deeds’ bill to help Virginia homeowners save money by converting to green energy systems passed unanimously in the Virginia Senate. His legislation, SB 1212, grants localities the authority to create a loan program to help Virginia families invest in clean energy technology.

The inspiration for this incentive came from the local level. Deeds introduced this legislation after members of the Charlottesville City Council came to him with an idea for the city to facilitate a loan program to help homeowners convert to clean energy systems. Deeds’ proposal will allow all cities and counties to create this program and directs localities to include local banking institutions in the loan programs.

“I applaud my colleagues for supporting this creative approach to help Virginia families invest in clean energy technology,” said Creigh Deeds. “My legislation will help Virginia homeowners cut their home energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions all across our Commonwealth. As Governor, I will continue to put forth innovative ideas to promote green energy technology and build Virginia’s next energy economy.”

Deeds’ legislation passed unanimously in the House of Delegates earlier in the week and is now on its way to Gov. Kaine’s desk for consideration.


Sports: VCU knocks off JMU in men’s hoops, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

Senior Eric Maynor (Raeford, N.C.) will have a chance to save the good stuff for the home crowd.

Maynor provided 18 points, falling two shy of breaking the Virginia Commonwealth University career scoring mark, and dished out eight assists in a 71-52 victory over James Madison Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.

In addition, Northeastern held on to beat Drexel, 47-46, meaning Maynor can deliver both the scoring mark and a third straight Colonial Athletic Association regular season crown Saturday when VCU (20-9, 13-4 CAA) hosts Georgia State at the Stuart C. Siegel Center at 4 p.m., his final home game with VCU.

The Rams, who led 28-26 at halftime, used an 11-3 burst at the start of the second half to push ahead, 39-29, with 14:19 left. JMU trimmed the lead to three, at 45-42 with 7:31 left, but Maynor scored six points during a 14-2 salvo that gave the Black and Gold control.

Sophomore Larry Sanders (Fort Pierce, Fla.) added his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. He collected seven of those boards in the second half to help key a 22-16 VCU advantage on the glass.

Junior Kirill Pishchalnikov (Maykop, Russia) added four points and 10 rebounds for the Rams, while sophomore Joey Rodriguez (Oviedo, Fla.) kicked in 11.

Juwann James scored a game-high 19 points to spark James Madison (18-12, 9-8 CAA). The Dukes shot just 29 percent (6-of-21) in the second half and misfired on 18 of their 20 3-pointers in the game.


Sports: Diamond Dukes upset Maryland, Thursday, 10:15 a.m.

Senior pitcher Justin Wood (Dayton, Va./Turner Ashby) pitched 7 1/3 strong innings, and the Dukes stole eight bases on their way to a 5-1 victory over the Maryland Terrapins on Wednesday at Long Field/Mauck Stadium.

With the win, JMU improved 3-3, while Maryland fell to 1-4 with the defeat. After starting the season 0-3, the Dukes have won three straight games to even their record.

Wood (1-1) gave up one run on five hits in his 7 1/3 innings of work to get his first win of the season. Sophomore pitcher Kevin Munson (Roanoke, Va./Cave Spring) came on in relief to throw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball.

On the base path, JMU had eight stolen bases in nine attempts. Sophomore center fielder Alex Foltz (Mathias, W.Va./East Hardy) led the team with three stolen bases and freshman Ian Haynes (Danville, Va./Tunstall) came on as a pinch runner to add two more.

At the plate, the Dukes scored five runs on nine hits and two Maryland errors. Sophomore shortstop David Herbek (Haymarket, Va./Battlefield) continued his great start to the season by going 2-for-3 with a run batted in. Herbek extended his hit streak to ten games dating back to the 2008 postseason. Senior catcher Brett Garner (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock) also had two hits, including a double and an RBI.

In the top of the first, Wood got off to a little bit of a rocky start after getting the first two outs. The Terrapins loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch, a single, and a walk. But, Wood settled down and got a fly out to left field to end the threat.

The Dukes would get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first. Foltz led off with walk, and then stole second base and third base. Sophomore third baseman McKinnon Langston (Tallahassee, Fla./North Florida Christian) hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Foltz for the first run of the game.

JMU struck for two more runs with two outs in the second. Garner doubled to left center and scored on a single to center field by junior second baseman Mike Fabiaschi (Torrington, Conn./Torrington). Then, Fabiaschi stole second, and Herbek drove him home on a single through the left side.

The Dukes would get one more run in the fourth on a throwing error by the Maryland catcher that allowed Haynes to walk home, and another run in the fifth on a Matt Townsend (Lorton, Va./Hayfield) sacrifice fly to right field.

Maryland’s lone run came in the top of the seventh inning when senior center fielder Dan Benick hit a double in the left field gap that allowed junior right fielder A.J. Casario to score from first.

The Terrapins were led at the plate by senior catcher Mike Moss, who was the only Maryland player with multiple hits.

Junior pitcher Brett Harmon took the loss for Maryland. Harmon (0-2) gave up four runs, three earned, on four hits in four innings on the mound.