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

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Report outlines impact of national parks in Va

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A report from the U.S. Department of the Interior says fewer people visited Virginia's national park sites last year and spent less money during those visits.

According to the report, visits to Virginia sites yielded nearly $871 million in economic benefits with 22 million-plus visits in 2013. That's down from the $926 million spent in 2012 with nearly 23.4 million visits.

The report outlines the number of visits and the economic impact at the country's more than 400 sites in the national park system.

Overall, the national park system received 273.6 million recreation visits in 2013 and park visitors spent $14.6 billion in local communities. Lodging accounts for about one-third of that spending.

Nationally, that spending supported nearly 240,000 jobs last year. Spending in Virginia supported more than 12,350 jobs.


Va. group to discuss Confederate battle flag flap

LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) - A group plans to hold a discussion this weekend on Washington and Lee University's decision to remove Confederate battle flags from a chapel on the Virginia campus where top Confederate general Robert E. Lee is buried.

The Roanoke Times reports the Lexington brigade of the Sons of Confederate Veterans plans to hold a downtown vigil and open forum on Saturday.

Brigade commander Brandon Dorsey says he wants the flags to be returned.

The Virginia school where Lee had served as president after the Civil War disclosed plans earlier this month to move the flags. It also said it would continue to study the university's historical involvement with slavery.

About a dozen black law school students wrote to the university trustees in April demanding that the flags be banished.


Environmental group list top Va. 15 for pollution

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Sierra Club has compiled a list of the top 15 ZIP codes in Virginia with the highest levels of toxic air emissions.

The environmental group used data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to compile the list.

Ranking at No. 1 was Covington, which had nearly 3 million pounds of emissions. The Appalachian town is home to MeadWestvaco's paperboard mill.

Metropolitan Richmond claimed four of the top 15 ZIP codes. They included Hopewell, Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights.

Others included in the list were Buchanan, Chesapeake, West Point, York County and Lynchburg, among others.


National capital area No. 1 for late mail

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. Postal Service report ranks the nation's capital No. 1 - for late mail delivery.

The Washington Post reports that an inspector general's report released Tuesday found that mail is delivered after 5 p.m. more than two-thirds of the time in the District of Columbia and the Maryland suburbs.

Northern Virginia also ranks high among areas of the United States getting late mail, with 69 percent of letter carriers still on their routes at night.

Both regions were well above the 38 percent national average for late deliveries from fiscal 2011 to 2013.

The inquiry was prompted by the November death of a part-time carrier who was shot in his mail truck in Prince George's County at 7:30 p.m.


Memorial honoring injured veterans under way in DC

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new memorial is rising near the National Mall that will be the first in Washington dedicated to veterans who come home with life-changing injuries.

The American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial is a project 16 years in the making and is set to be dedicated Oct. 5. The Associated Press recently had an early look at the memorial under construction as it's beginning to take shape.

Glass walls will carry inscriptions and photographs telling veterans' stories from different eras. Bronze silhouette sculptures will represent their service. And a ceremonial flame will burn on the water's surface in a star-shaped fountain representing the five branches of military service, surrounded by a grove of trees.

Inscriptions quoting George Washington and Dwight Eisenhower will anchor a Wall of Gratitude for veterans.


Donald Trump to break ground for new DC hotel

WASHINGTON (AP) - Donald Trump hopes to bring his signature brand of glitz to the nation's capital with a new luxury hotel in the city's third-tallest building.

Trump plans to break ground Wednesday on a $200 million hotel that will transform the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.

The 115-year-old building includes a 315-foot observation tower that offers panoramic views of downtown Washington. It was under-utilized in recent years, housing small vendors that catered mostly to tourists.

The new Trump International Hotel is expected to open in 2016. It will feature 270 guest rooms and two presidential suites of more than 3,000 square feet.

Trump's daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric were scheduled to join him for the groundbreaking.


Man convicted in Va. teen's death to be sentenced

LOVINGSTON, Va. (AP) - A man convicted of abducting and killing a Nelson County teenager is due back in court for sentencing.

Jurors recommended two life sentences for 48-year-old Randy Taylor, who was found guilty in the August 2013 death of 17-year-old Alexis Murphy. Her body has never been found.

Taylor will be sentenced Wednesday afternoon. He was convicted of first-degree murder in commission of an abduction and abduction with intent to defile.

Murphy was last seen at a gas station in Lovingston. Surveillance video from the gas station showed Murphy's vehicle following Taylor's truck. Murphy's car was found several days later in an Albemarle County parking lot.


Ben's Chili Bowl opens eatery at National Airport

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) - Reagan National Airport is celebrating the opening of Ben's Chili Bowl in one of its terminals as the famous Washington eatery opens its first airport location.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration Wednesday at the airport will include performances by the Chuck Brown Band and giveaways to diners. After the celebration, Ben's Chili Bowl will begin serving travelers at the airport.

The airport says the opening of the new eatery is part of a larger redevelopment of the shops and dining options at National Airport and Dulles International Airport. In the past month, National Airport has opened new dining and shopping options including Legal Sea Foods, Brooks Brothers, Pinkberry and other shops.


McAuliffe heads West to fundraise

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is planning a trip to Los Angeles and Aspen, Colorado, to fundraise for his political action committee.

McAuliffe is scheduled to be in Los Angeles on Wednesday for a fundraiser hosted by billionaire grocery store magnate Ron Burkle, according to McAuliffe aide Michael Halle.

Thursday the Democratic governor is set to attend an Aspen fundraiser hosted by Samia Farouki, the wife of defense contractor A. Huda Farouki.

McAuliffe's Common Good Virginia PAC raised and spent nearly $1 million during the new governor's first six months in office.


Tropical depression approaching Lesser Antilles

MIAMI (AP) - The U.S. National Hurricane Center says a fast-moving tropical depression in the Atlantic is expected to approach the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday night.

The depression's maximum sustained winds early Wednesday are near 35 mph. The depression is expected to degenerate into a trough of low pressure on Thursday.

The tropical depression is centered about 550 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and is moving west-northwest near 20 mph.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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