Local Leads: 12/5/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 12/5/2009

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    How Telehealth Technology is Revolutionizing Healthcare
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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    Rain is falling on the D.C. area, and as predicted, it looks like it's turning to snow.  Snow has been falling in the West Virginia panhandle, and rain has turned to snow as close as Loudoun County, Va., and upper Montgomery County, Md.  It's the first snowfall of the season for the D.C. area. In the city, the rain is expected to give way to snow around midday. Temperatures in the low 40s are expected to drop over the course of the day.  The D.C. area should get 2 to 4 inches, with more accumulation further west.  A winter weather advisory will be in effect from noon until 11 p.m. in the D.C. area. That means the snow, rain and/or wintry mix could cause slippery roads and limited visibility. Drivers should use extra caution.

    A building that housed a movie theater for decades in Takoma Park, is a total loss Saturday morning after a pre-dawn fire.  "Allen Theater, which we believe at this time was being utilized as a shoe and clothing store," says Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant ChiefScott Graham.   The fire on New Hampshire Avenue near East-West Highway was reported just before 2:30 this morning, and went to three alarms before crews got it under control three hours later.   About 120 firefighters from Montgomery and Prince George's counties responded to the scene.

    The Virginia couple who got into last week's state dinner at the White House without an invitation is also in trouble for bouncing a nearly $24,000 check for liquor purchased in Maryland.  The Montgomery County government, which conducts all the wholesale liquor sales on its territory, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michaele and Tareq Salahi in Montgomery County District Court. The Salahis purchased wine and beer for a charity polo event they held in Montgomery County in May.According to court documents, the couple returned more than $10,000 worth of merchandise, but they still owe more than $13,000 from the bounced check.

    Maryland is among several states whose efforts to curb smoking have apparently paid off - even as the nationwide percentage of smokers has stayed constant over the past five years.  At about 15 percent, the state has the fourth-lowest percentage of adult smokers in the United States, according to a study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A similar study released by the agency says that nearly 21 percent of Americans were smokers last year, a number virtually unchanged since 2004.  Maryland's success in reducing smoking comes 10 years after the state created the Cigarette Restitution Fund, a repository for money from part of the $206 billion lawsuit settlement that 46 states and U.S. territories received from the tobacco industry. The state implemented several programs to help smokers kick the habit and keep young people from starting it.

    The black-and-white bear sat under a chestnut oak tree, holding a golden pear in his left paw and regarding his massed admirers as a monarch might his people. Sure, he had bad table manners: He chewed with his mouth open, dribbled crumbs down his chest and licked his paws.   But Friday, with word that his reign at the National Zoo was ending, Tai Shan, Washington's beloved giant panda adolescent, was saluted as if he were a departing young prince. Subjects wept. They shouted their love from an overlook. They prayed that he might one day find a suitable princess in the far-off land that will be his new home.   And all this came months before he leaves.


    New details on the response to the first shootings of what would become the Virginia Tech massacre show that at least two administrators alerted their family members well before the rest of the campus was notified that a gunman was on the loose.  The revised state report released Friday also revealed that garbage collection on campus was canceled before students and staff were notified of the danger, and the family of an injured victim wasn't notified until she died hours later.  The new details about the university's response from the time the first victims were found to when they alerted the campus brought angry reactions and questions from some victims' families about leadership during the 2007 massacre that ended with 33 people dead.  Dennis Bluhm, whose son was killed in the rampage, laid the blame on President Charles Steger, who has faced calls to resign from Bluhm and other families.  "He's got to live with himself," Bluhm said. "If he's got any heart at all, and I'm not sure he does, he's got a long life to live with this on his brain."