HOME ALONE INVASION
Police: 3 Va. kids home alone when burglars enter
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Police in Norfolk are investigating why three children were home alone when two men broke into the residence, sent the children into a back room and stole items before fleeing.
Norfolk police spokesman Daniel Hudson tells The Virginian-Pilot it's unclear how long the children had been alone Tuesday. He says the children, ages 8, 5 and 2, remain in their parents' care while the investigation continues.
Police are searching for two men who broke into the home. One of them was carrying a handgun.
Bodies of woman, child found in Norfolk home
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Police in Norfolk are investigating the deaths of a woman and a young girl.
Cpl. Melinda Wray says the bodies were found Wednesday at a home in Norfolk.
Neighbors told media outlets the victims were a 5-year-old girl with special needs and her mother.
The victims' names weren't released pending notification of relatives. The bodies have been sent to a medical examiner to determine the cause of death.
HEALTH INSURANCE REFUNDS
US announces Va. refunds under Affordable Care Act
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Nearly $9 million in refunds from insurance companies are headed to 104,000 consumers in Virginia.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced the refunds Thursday, crediting the Affordable Care act.
Burwell said the refunds in Virginia will average $148 per family.
The payments are being made under a provision of the act that requires insurers to make the refunds if they spend an excessive amount on red tape and bonuses for executives.
Virginians entitled to a refund will get the money through a check in the mail or in a reduction in future premiums, among other ways.
HIGHER ED-DISTANCE LEARNING
Va. to join higher ed distance learning agreement
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia higher education officials are working to make it easier for students to take online classes and for universities to offer them.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia voted this week to join a multi-state reciprocity agreement that deals with authorization and payment for distance learning courses.
Colleges and universities that offer distance learning to students in other states are currently required to seek authorization from those states. Officials say that process is both costly and complex.
The pact aims to address those issues by automatically allowing schools to offer those classes to out-of-state students if the courses are approved by another state's higher education organization.
Officials say the hope is to have all 50 states and the District of Columbia ultimately participate in the agreement.
More honors for Appalachian legend Ralph Stanley
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Appalachian music master Ralph Stanley is being honored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The southwest Virginia legend will be honored by the academy in October in a class that also includes Al Pacino, writers John Irving and Annie Proulx and the man who discovered the Titanic, Robert Ballard.
The Massachusetts academy was founded in 1780 to recognize America's foremost thinkers. Its past members include George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, among many others.
Stanley is a Grammy-winning musician and a founding father of bluegrass. He is most widely known from the soundtrack of "O Brother."
Survey: honey bee colony losses in Va. continue
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia continues to see steep honey bee colony losses.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says a survey from October through April found that nearly 33 percent of managed honey bee colonies in the state died. The rate is higher than the national loss figure for the same period, but lower than the honey bee deaths recorded over the winter of 2012-13.
The losses that reporting period were 44.6 percent.
The survey was conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership. A state-by-state survey found that Virginia ranked 20th of the 47 reporting states for the highest percentage of honey bee colony loss over last winter.
Keith Tignor is the state apiarist at VDACS. He says the survey shows the state continues to lose bees at an alarming rate.
NATIONAL DANCE DAY
Kennedy Center to host 'Dance Day' celebration
WASHINGTON (AP) - Actress Jenna Elfman and dancer Du-Shaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall will be at the Kennedy Center this weekend to celebrate National Dance Day.
Free performances and demonstrations are planned Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Kennedy Center's Grand Foyer. Elfman and Stegall will offer group dance lessons.
Elfman is known for her role as Dharma in the TV series "Dharma and Greg." She began her career as a professional dancer. Stegall is a hip-hop dancer from Wichita, Kansas. He won season 10 of TV's "So You Think You Can Dance."
National Dance Day began as an annual celebration in 2010 to show how dance is a fun way to maintain good health and combat obesity. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton helped launch the event with a congressional resolution.
Meg Ryan sightings in Va. as star directs film
PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) - Meg Ryan sightings are increasing around central Virginia as the actress prepares to make her debut as a director.
The latest star sighting was in Old Towne Petersburg, where the Progress-Index reports Ryan was seen Wednesday at a restaurant.
She has been seen in Richmond as well as she prepares to film "Ithaca." Ryan will appear in the movie with her 22-year-old son, Jack Quaid.
Tom Hanks is the film's executive producer and reunites the stars of "Sleepless in Seattle," among other romantic comedies.
"Ithaca" is scheduled for a 2015 release.
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