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It’s more official: Jerry Falwell Parkway

It’s official. A stretch of U.S. 460 in Lynchburg will be named the Jerry Falwell Parkway. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine signed legislation this week that was approved by the General Assembly a week ago, designating that the highway from the U.S. 29 intersection to the Monacan Bridge be named for Falwell.

Sponsored by Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, and all members of the Lynchburg delegation, the bill naming the parkway was approved on a 40-0 vote in the Senate and 90-3 in the House, where six members abstained from voting.

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Jeff Barber one step closer to LSU

LSU’s athletic director search committee opted to keep six of the first batch of applicants under consideration on Friday after weeding out candidates and LU’s AD Jeff Barber is one of them.

The search committee will meet again once another pool of applicants comes in, to review the candidates in greater detail and comparatively.

But wee should expect some pretty good movement in the next 30 days or so as more high-profile candidates wait until late in the process to become applicants so they can stay out of the spotlight for now.

Barber was approved by the search committee with little or no discussion.

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LU GLTC workers HAPPY!

Following months of delay, union workers for the Greater Lynchburg Transit Company have voted to accept the bus system’s original contract offer – a move one union rep attributed to “settling.”

Last December, GLTC employees rejected an offer that would put the drivers of the new Liberty University routes on cleaning crews in the summer months. Those drivers, about a dozen in all, had hoped to earn year-round employment behind the wheel.

GLTC’s last union contract expired Aug. 31. The vote to approve the new terms took place Feb. 12, negotiators on both sides confirmed Thursday.

While workers weren’t necessarily “all that happy” with the deal, they settled for what was offered.

Under the new contract, employees will get an 11 percent raise spread out over the next three years. The co-pays and deductibles on their health insurance will also be raised to help offset that expense. LU drivers will have a choice of taking unpaid furlough when the university is not in session or taking a cleaning position.

The terms of the new contract extend into August 2011. GLTC has nearly 70 bus drivers and maintenance workers. Not all of those employees are dues-paying union members, but all are included under the new contract.

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More Politicians coming to LU: Gilmore

Former Gov. Jim Gilmore will be in Lynchburg on Friday for campaign appearances at Liberty University.

Gilmore, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, will attend convo, then speak to the school’s chapter of College Republicans later that day.

But the former governor is not the guest speaker at convocation.

The College Republicans meet will be at 6 p.m. meeting. Gilmore likely will speak about his campaign, national security, and the economy.

Gilmore faces opposition from Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, for the Republican nomination and to challenge former Gov. Mark Warner, the Democratic contender, for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

The Helms School of Government will host a private reception and meet-and- greet with Gilmore at 5 p.m.

He expects that Gilmore may ask club members for campaign assistance.

He will be held in room 1101 of the DeMoss Learning Center.

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Liberty University help teach computer skills to prisoners

Liberty University and the Department of Corrections would team up to give prisoners a computer-based educational opportunity under legislation proposed by Del. Kathy Byron, R-Campbell County.The program would be a prototype, unlike any in Virginia or most prison systems in other states. Few Virginia prisoners have any kind of access to a computer.

Inmates would not be able to use the Internet.

The purpose is to cut down the number of inmates who, upon their release, commit new crimes and come back to prison because they lack the work skills needed in society.

Although the program’s design is taken from Liberty’s distance-learning program that reaches around the world, the computers in the prison would reach no farther than a server located in the same classroom with the prisoners. A Liberty University instructor, who also would serve as the only tutor, would load the course material for each student onto that server.

Inmates could study at different levels in the same classroom at the same time.

While one might work on remedial high-school level studies, another could be earning credits toward a college degree in, for

example, business administration.

Language in the budget bill proposed by the House Finance Committee this week directs the Corrections Department to have the program operating by September at the Green Rock Correctional Center in Chatham.

Green Rock, opened in 2007, is a medium-security prison that can hold about 1,000 inmates.

The ultimate goal is to have the program expanded to other prisons in Virginia.

Although the program would be established in the budget bill, no state funding is involved.

The program’s goal is preventing recidivism, or inmates returning to prison.

Most prison tutorial programs are based on correspondence courses. The soft-cover books they use are much like the ones his father studied about 80 years ago.