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

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FORMER GOVERNOR TRIAL

Key witness takes stand in ex-governor's trial

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The government's key witness in the corruption trial for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has testified that he gave McDonnell and his wife money because it was a business relationship, not because they were friends.

Jonnie Williams took the stand Wednesday afternoon under the cloak of immunity. Williams is a colorful car salesman-turned-venture capitalist and the former chief executive of Star Scientific Inc., a Virginia-based company.

Prosecutors say Williams gave the McDonnells more than $165,000 in secret gifts, cash and loans in exchange for promoting his product.

The trial began by diving into the sordid details of the McDonnells' marriage. Bob McDonnell's attorneys say he was an honest politician. Maureen McDonnell's lawyers say she was not a public official.

Williams' testimony is set to continue Thursday.

HIGHER EDUCATION-COSTS

Costs for higher education in Virginia rise

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The amount paid by students at public colleges and universities in Virginia is increasing.

The State Council of Higher Education of Virginia says undergraduates at public four-year schools will see an average increase of about 5 percent, or $544, in tuition and fees in the 2014-15 academic year.

Virginia community college students will pay about $180 more per year, or an increase of 4.6 percent.

Officials say tuition and fees also had increased more than 4 percent in the previous academic year.

The council is the coordinating body for Virginia's system of higher education.

ENDANGERED ARTIFACTS

Va-area artifacts vie for 'endangered' designation

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Some of the area's most unique relics are vying for the title of Virginia's Top 10 Endangered Artifacts.

The program sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums is designed to create awareness of the importance of preserving artifacts.

While the designation doesn't come with award money, officials say it has helped some of those previously listed apply for grants and help with fundraising efforts.

Using input from public online voting that begins in August, an independent panel of experts will select the top artifacts in mid-September.

The nominees include regalia of the Pamunkey Indian tribe, a 1930s German Box Car, a 1905 Steinway piano, a skeleton tank, and the tombstone of the founder of Virginia Tech

LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT

Lexington had highest jobless rate in June

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The city of Lexington had the highest jobless rate in Virginia in June.

The Virginia Employment Commission says the city's seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 11.4 percent. That's up from 10.4 percent in May and down from 11.9 percent a year ago.

The statewide rate for June was 5.4 percent.

Nationally, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate for June was 6.3 percent. Rates dropped from last year in 359 metropolitan areas, increased in 10 and were flat in three.

Arlington County had Virginia's lowest jobless rate with 3.6 percent in June.

The Danville region had the highest unemployment rate among Virginia's metropolitan regions at 7.8 percent.

The Washington metropolitan region that includes Arlington and Alexandria had the lowest rate of 4.5 percent.

TUNNEL FIRE-REPAIRS

I-77 tunnel repair along W.Va.-Va. border ongoing

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) - Repairs to an Interstate 77 tunnel along the Virginia-West Virginia border continue following a truck fire.

The Virginia Department of Transportation says repairs of the East River Mountain Tunnel will continue for several weeks. The work will be done overnight.

Burning cardboard on the truck sent thick, black smoke throughout the tunnel Friday, forcing it to close in both directions.

Crews are repairing tunnel lights, as well as doing cleaning and tile inspection and repair.

VOTER REGISTRATION MISHAP

Va. agency mistakenly tells 125K they can't vote

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Elections has mistakenly told about 125,000 registered Virginia voters that they may no longer be eligible to vote.

That's according to an email sent Tuesday to Virginia registrars.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the agency sent letters to the voters erroneously after they had moved or updated their address with the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Officials told registrars to let voters know that the letter was sent in error and then verify that their current address is correct.

UNDERAGE PROSTITUTION

Ex-sailor pleads guilty to sex trafficking child

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - A former Navy sailor has pleaded guilty to crossing state lines for sex trafficking of a child.

Jeffrey Chadwick Wright of Warrenton, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in federal court in Norfolk on Wednesday. He faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced in November.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that Wright kept a 17-year-old runaway girl in his barracks and acknowledged prostituting her in Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland. Wright set up an escort advertisement for the girl online.

Wright was discharged from the Navy in March and was arrested in April after local authorities caught him with the girl.

FELONS' RIGHTS

McAuliffe restores voting rights of 2.5K felons

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration has restored the voting rights of more than 2,500 Virginia felons since he's been in office.

In April, McAuliffe announced that he was making it easier for felons to regain their voting rights.

As part of that action, he reduced the waiting period for violent felons to apply for reinstatement from five years to three years.

McAuliffe also removed drug offenses from the list of violent crimes that are subject to the waiting period.

The changes built on former Gov. Bob McDonnell's efforts to streamline the process. McDonnell's administration restored the civil rights of more than 8,000 felons, nearly twice as many as any previous administration.

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

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