Local Leads: 1/31/2010 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 1/31/2010

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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    A winter storm expected to deliver little more than a dusting Saturday instead spoiled weekend plans and interrupted public transportation as it dumped up to eight inches of powdery snow throughout the Washington region.  Before arriving early Saturday, the storm blasted the Southeast, downing power lines, causing highway pileups and dumping about a foot of snow in the Richmond area and in parts of Western North Carolina.  In this region, forecasters initially predicted a minimal impact, but the storm led to a long list of closures, scores of traffic accidents and limited bus service, as well as small delays and cancellations at the region's airports.

    A 22-year-old Fredericksburg, Va., woman won the 2010 Miss America pageant in Las Vegas Saturday night.  Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron, seemed honestly shocked when her name was called. The Virginia Commonwealth University senior stood holding her bouquet of long-stemmed roses with her mouth wide open.  Cameron accepted the title wearing a yellow dress with a gold-bodice and chandelier earrings. Only her smile sparkled brighter.  Along with the title, comes a $50,000 scholarship.  Through a chorus of “There She Is: Miss America,” host Mario Lopez could be heard telling Cameron, “Yes, this is really happening.”  As she got ready to take her walk around the stage, her proud parents emerged hand-in-hand from the audience. Cameron’s mother appeared to be in tears.  Cameron waved to the crowd and mouthed, “Oh, my gosh!”

    Powerball tickets go on sale in Virginia and Maryland for the first time this week.   The first multi-state lottery game will start selling tickets in Maryland on Sunday. Virginia's multistate game debuts Wednesday.  Maryland's Powerball jackpots start at $20 million; tickets cost $1. Drawings are Wednesday and Saturdays about 11:22 p.m. The first Powerball drawing date for Maryland will be Wednesday.  The Virginia Lottery announced last fall that the operators of the Powerball and Mega Millions lottery games were joining forces.  That means the 12 Mega Millions states, including Virginia, will be able to sell Powerball tickets. The 33 Powerball states also will offer Mega Millions.  Virginia Lottery director Paula Otto says the addition of Powerball means Virginians will now be able to participate in four major jackpot drawings each week without leaving the state.

    The Ravens named Jim Zorn as their quarterbacks coach Saturday, the most intriguing and high-profile hire by coach John Harbaugh.  Zorn, 56, was fired by the Washington Redskins on Jan. 4 after a disastrous second season as their head coach. The Ravens, though, were overwhelmed by his experience: 11 seasons as an NFL quarterback, 11 seasons as a respected NFL quarterbacks coach and a familiarity with their offense.  That's a great resume for us," Harbaugh said.  Zorn's primary goal is to continue the development of Joe Flacco into an elite, franchise quarterback. Zorn becomes only the second quarterbacks coach for Flacco, replacing Hue Jackson (who joined the Oakland Raiders as their offensive coordinator Tuesday).

    A new study finds that laws banning hand-held cell phone use while driving have not reduced the number of auto accidents in the District or elsewhere.  The Highway Loss Data Institute examined insurance claim records in D.C., New York, Connecticut and California, as well as nearby areas lacking cell phone bans.  The findings: Cell phone bans don't lower crash rates.  "We looked at states that have had hand-held cell phone bans in place for the longest times," said Russ Rader, a representative of the Highway Loss Data Institute, which is a research wing of the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "We found that there was no change in the crash trends before compared to after the laws banning cell phone use were put in place."