03:57am, 11/22/14
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Friday, November 21, 2014
Updated 11/21/14 @ 5:00 pm

Former rescue squad treasurer admits to taking money:
(Henry County, Va.) -- Susan Smith has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $4,000 from the Ridgeway District Volunteer Rescue Squad.
     Smith was treasurer of the local volunteer squad when the crimes occured.
     She entered guilty pleas Friday to three felony counts of grand larceny. Earlier this week, a Henry County grand jury indicted the 44-year-old on three counts of embezzlement.
      The prosecutor in the case said Smith stole thousands of dollars from the rescue squad between 2012 and this year, and that she used the money to pay her electric and cable bills. According to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the money has since been returned to the rescue squad.
      Smith’s sentencing was set for February 11.

Duke briefs Council on Eden cleanup:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville leaders this week learned more about Duke Energy’s plans to clean up their coal ash pits in Eden.  Company Spokesman Davis Montgomery told City Council this week Duke Energy says its plan to clean-up four coal ash pounds in North Carolina includes the remaining residue at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, or about 2.6 million tons of waste. The shuttered plant was the site of that massive spill in February that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in a gray sludge.  Montgomery says the work will begin in a matter of months. He estimates that process will take about a year-and-a-half, but there’s no estimate on the cost of the removal.

Hurt touts bills targeting EPA:
(Washington, D.C.) -- The House this week passed three measures to reform the environmental Protection Agency---and a local lawmaker supported all three.  Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt says the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, the Secret Science Reform Act, and the Promoting New Manufacturing Act all target EPA regulations that impact job creation.  Hurt notes all three measures got strong bi-partisan support in the House.  All three now head to the Senate.

Another hearing for Mountain Valley Pipeline:
(Pearisburg, Va.) -- Two companies who want to run a natural gas pipeline through Southside and Southwest Virginia made their pitch last night out in Giles County.
          The 42-inch Mountain Valley Pipeline would run from West Virginia to Chatham.  It would connect to the Transco compressor station near Chatham.
          Right now, plans call for the line to run through Giles, Pulaski, Montgomery, Floyd, Henry, Roanoke and Franklin counties.
          Critics say it would damage the environment, destroy the view, threaten water supplies and bring possible explosions, leaks and other hazards.
          The two companies involved are the EQT Corporation and NextEra Energy Incorporated.  They have pre-filed for a permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
          Dozens of residents in Giles County last night spoke against the pipeline.

Afternoon School Bus accident causes minor damage:
(Ringgold, Va.) -- Ringgold rescue workers were called to a school bus accident around 3:40 Wednesday afternoon. In the 2800 block of Ringgold Depot Road, a small pickup truck had hit the backend of a school bus that had stopped to let passengers off. According to Fire Chief Mike Neal, 15 children from Dan River High School and Kentuck Middle School were on the bus at the time. All the passengers were evaluated. Two were transported to DRMC for observation. School officials and state police worked the scene with Ringgold fire and rescue.


Couple arrested on impersonation charges:
(Rockingham, Co., NC) -- Two people were arrested in Reidsville following a Saturday incident of impersonating an officer and kidnapping.
          According to reports, 59-year-old Jonathan Leon Wood of Reidsville, was approached at a convenience store The individuals who approached him and promised to get him out of a pending charge involving Food Stamp Fraud. The individual posed as a Deputy Sheriff said Wood only had to pay him $1,000 to make the charge go away. Wood said he was forced at gunpoint to drive to a specific location to get the $1,000.
          Later, Detective Lori Pegram arrested 34-year-old Crystal Dawn Callahan and Marcus Cardwell, both of Eden. Cardwell is charged with 2nd Degree Kidnapping, feloniously obtaining property by fall pretense, and impersonating a Law Enforcement Officer. Callahan is charged with Aiding and Abetting 2nd Degree Kidnapping. Both are being Held in the Rockingham County Jail under a secured bond. They are scheduled to appear in Court on December 4th.

Afternoon School Bus accident causes minor damage:
(Ringgold, Va.) -- Ringgold rescue workers were called to a school bus accident around 3:40 Wednesday afternoon. In the 2800 block of Ringgold Depot Road, a small pickup truck had hit the backend of a school bus that had stopped to let passengers off. According to Fire Chief Mike Neal, 15 children from Dan River High School and Kentuck Middle School were on the bus at the time. All the passengers were evaluated. Two were transported to DRMC for observation. School officials and state police worked the scene with Ringgold fire and rescue.

 

Neighbors appeal for more time to preserve two historic homes:
(Danville, Va.) -- Residents of the Old West End neighborhood appealed to Danville City Council Tuesday night for more time to preserve two historic homes at 208 and 233 Jefferson Avenue. And they also renewed an appeal for a moratorium on demolition of historic properties.
    Steven Wilson asked council to slow down the blight eradication effort in the historic district, saying there are “hundreds of people about the East Coast that would move to Danville for that house (on Jefferson Avenue) but there’s not a single person between here and Boston that would move to Danville for a house by the golf course.”
    Without a delay, the homes on Jefferson Avenue are slated for immediate demolition.
    Preservationists are working to find buyers for the homes and have appealed the building inspector’s decision to raze the structures.
    City Attorney Clarke Whitfield told the group Danville City Council has no power to override a ruling from the building code inspector, who he said “makes those final decisions as to when things are condemned and demolished and when structures are safe or unsafe.”
     No action was taken on the request for a moratorium. 

World Tobacco Auctioneering Champion Bob Cage dies:
(South Boston, Va.) -- Robert "Bob" Cage died Wednesday after a period of declining health.
      Cage was a former world champion tobacco auctioneer. He was also an accomplished sculptor and tennis player who won numerous tennis titles and competed on the seniors circuit into his 80s.
      His large, outdoor sculptures received national recognition. One was donated to the North Theater in Danville and is display in front of the historic theater. Others greet visitors at the entrance to his farm in South Boston.
     Cage was one of the first world champion tobacco auctioneers selected in competitions sponsored by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco during Danville’s Harvest Jubilee festivals. His melodious chant attracted the attention of Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, which recorded his distinctive style for the national archives.
      Cage was a native of the town of Halifax and is survived by his wife, Sandy, and three children.

AMP officials hopeful on appeal:
(Danville, Va.) -- Officials with American Municipal Power were in Danville Monday and briefed a Danville Utilities study commission on the progress of an appeal.
      Danville is a member of AMP’s power projects and was part of a consortium that formed to build a coal-fired power plant in Ohio. The project was abandoned when the contractor, Bechel, ran way over budget in the pre-construction phase.
     AMP still hopes to recover $97 million in costs; however, Danville’s role in the project left the city liable for bills totaling more than $5 million.
      AMP senior vice president John Bentine says the case was appealed after a lower court judge ruled that Betchel did not act “wantonly.”
      Bentine says he expects the Ohio Supreme court to accept or reject the appeal "in the next 30-to-45 days."
      The cost of the project jumped from $2.3 to more than $3 billion and Bentine says the contractor never gave any indication that the pricetag was rising.
      Bentine said Danville could recover some or all of its costs, if the appeal is successful.

 


Three former utility workers charged with Grand Larceny:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Danville Grand Jury has indicted three former City Utilities employees on grand larceny counts.
          41-year old Benjamin Hairfield of Martinsville and 46-year old Marshall Wilkerson of Ringgold were each picked up Monday on two counts of grand larceny.  41-year old Dennis Booth of Axton was arrested yesterday on a single count of grand larceny.
          The charges stem from three separate incidents last year and earlier this year.  Police say the three men sold material belonging to the City of Danville for personal gain. The material was taken from the Pinnacles hydroelectric substation in Patrick County.
          Hairfield was a Superintendent of Electric Substations. Wilkerson was an Electric Line Technician. Booth was an Electric Substation Operator. All were released yesterday on a signature bond.
          These charges are part of an ongoing investigation of the City Utilities Department.  Several are already facing charges for falsifying overtime hours.


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