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In-Depth Reporting

In-depth reporting 2014

When Rockbridge County Administrator Spencer Suter learned last summer that Natural Bridge would go up for auction, he feared the Virginia landmark could fall into the wrong hands. Suter said the bridge found an unlikely buyer in Kissito Healthcare CEO Tom Clarke, who helped structure one of the most complex - and potentially most important - real estate transactions Suter has ever seen.

 

Rockbridge County Sheriff's Deputy Troy Wimer remembers getting a tip about a year ago that two men were buying cartons and cartons of cigarettes at a gas station in tiny Raphine, Va., just off Interstate 81.

"They actually had debit cards and gift cards they had stolen and used," Wimer said. "They had rented a minivan, and I just so happened to be close to the interstate, and they came by me on the interstate in that minivan. When I stopped them, they had 50 cartons of cigarettes and a hundred of those fake cards and stolen cards."

 

 

In-depth reporting 2013

Virginia has been allowed to opt out of the federal No Child Left Behind Law. What does that mean for Rockbridge area schools?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The controversial practice of horizontal hydraulic fracturing - fracking - to drill for natural gas is about to hit home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The technical term for across-the-board budget cuts mandated by Congress - the sequester - might be lost on some. But the local implications aren't.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the 40 percent of Rockbridge area residents classified as low-income, finding the medical treatment they need is a constant challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About 36,000 people call the Rockbridge area home. Many of them are gun owners. In the past two years their numbers have soared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

In-depth reporting 2012

Budget cuts: How Rockbridge area schools are coping:  Every spring, school systems across Virginia draft their budgets. And every spring, administrators, teachers and school board members warn that raises are at risk, the school drama program could be cut and the price of a school lunch might go up again. Is it really worse this year?

 

 

Sex offenders in the Rockbridge area: For nearly two decades, convicted sex offenders have been required to check in with police and provide their addresses for publicly available registries. The U.S. Census says 36,000 people call the Rockbridge area home. Ninety of them are registered sex offenders. They are carpenters, mechanics, housewives, fathers and husbands.

 

Raising the bar: University law school requires students to practice: Angelia Travis sobbed through her first meeting at the Community Practice Legal Center. The 40-year-old mother of four kids wanted a divorce from her abusive husband. "I was scared, beat down and emotional," she said. "I was worried about losing my kids because I didn't make a whole lot of money." Three and a half years later, Travis got her divorce, with help from students at one of six clinics at W&L's law school.

 

The Chesapeake Bay: An uncertain future: The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans 64,000 square miles and six states, from central New York to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation rated the bay a 31, or a D+, in 2010. The bay suffers from chronic nutrient pollution and low oxygen. Populations of bay oysters have crashed to less than 1 percent of their historic highs. Federal and state governments have spent more than $5 billion trying to clean up the Chesapeake.

 

Poor Diet: Not enough food, and the wrong kind: Just about everybody loves to eat, but most of us take our meals for granted. For hundreds - maybe thousands - of people in the Rockbridge area, though, getting enough food, and getting the right foods, is a constant struggle. Some make a little too much money to get government assistance. Others, stranded in remote areas without reliable transportation, resort to convenience stores.

 

In-depth reporting 2011

Unemployment: The Story Behind the Numbers: The national recession affected every corner of the economy. But some were affected more than others - and the discrepancies highlight the socioeconomic division within the Rockbridge area. There are local efforts to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, but the lower-income people that these efforts are aimed at don't seem to be taking notice.

House Mountain: Protecting a Rockbridge County Icon: For decades, House Mountain, the imposing landmark that dominates the western horizon for much of Rockbridge County, was almost taken for granted as a place where people could enjoy being outdoors, hiking, camping and hunting.  But when hundreds of acres of the mountain went up for sale in 1988, people in the community realized that they could lose it, and they united in an effort to protect the land.