05:29am, 01/27/15
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Monday, January 26, 2015
Updated 1/26/15 @ 3:35 am

Former electric supervisor pleads guilty to theft:
(Danville, Va.) -- A former supervisor with the Danville Utilities Department entered guilty pleas to a pair of felony charges Monday.
       41-year old Benjamin Hairfield of Martinsville was a superintendent of electric substations when the crimes occurred.
      According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Newman, Hairfield admitted to taking and selling scrap copper and steel beams that belonged to the city from the Pinnacles Hydroelectric Plant in Patrick County. The first incident happened in April of 2013 when Hairfield had two city workers assist him in loading some scrap copper, which he later sold for $3,300. Then, the following April, Hairfield took some steel beams the city had purchased for more than $10,000 and scrapped them for $1,500. He admitted to pocketing the money instead of returning it to the city.
      A grand jury met in November and indicted Hairston, 46-year old Marshall Wilkerson of Ringgold and 41-year old Dennis Booth of Axton in connection with the theft of city-owned property from the Pinnacles Plant. The charges were the result of a division-side police investigation launched last August.
       Wilkerson was an electric line technician and Booth an electric substation operator. Each is charged with grand larceny.
        Hairfield entered guilty pleas to two counts of grand larceny and faces a maximum of 40 years when sentenced March 4. Wilkerson and Booth await trial.
      Police launched the probe after an internal audit last year showed irregularities. The investigation focused on abuse of overtime pay and illegal use of company credit cards within certain work groups in the Utilities Division.  

8th graders charged with beinging gun to Westwood:
(Danville, Va.) – A gun was found on the Westwood Middle School campus Monday morning.
    According to a news release from the Danville Police Department, two juveniles at the school – males ages 13 and 14 -- face weapons counts following an incident on campus Monday morning.
     A Danville Police school resource officer spotted several male juveniles in the  cafeteria acting suspiciously at about 7:10 a.m. The officer contacted school administration and they investigated the incident. They found a .22-caliber revolver and ammunition in a student's locker.
     The weapon was not loaded and no one was threatened or injured during the incident.
     The 13-year-old has been charged with possessing a weapon on school property, possession of a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon by a minor. The 14-year-old has been charged with possessing a weapon on school property and possession of a weapon by a minor.
    A voice message to parents says the gun was seized by the school resource officer without incident and that students and teachers were never in any danger.
    The individuals involved were both eighth graders at Westwood.
     The message to parents described the climate at Westwood as “calm,” with “students and staff safe and secure.”

Danville Police probe shooting:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police are looking for the gunman shot a man over the weekend.  The call came in at around eleven o-clock Saturday night from the 100-block of Walker Street.  Police say the victim was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment of a single gunshot wound to his right side.  He is expected to recover.  Police are still investigating.

Major changes proposed for Tobacco Commission:
(Richmond, Va.) --
A 2011 study by the General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission was critical of several grants the tobacco commission made, saying they did little to boost local economies.  Now there’s a bipartisan effort to change that. 
     Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican Delegate Terry Kilgore are signing off on a bill that would require those who get Commission grants also put up matching funds.  The measure would also set up a revolving loan fund, while reducing the Commission’s membership from 32 to 25.
     A former commissioner stole $4 million from the commission and is serving a 10-year prison sentence, and the FBI investigated last year whether a state senator was lured into resigning — and flipping control of the state Senate —with the promise of a lucrative commission job. Prosecutors did not file any criminal charges.  
     The AP reported last year that the commission had approved grants that helped groups with ties to Kilgore’s family members---and the commission may have approved millions of dollars more than was necessary to help build a natural gas pipeline for Dominion Resources.

McDonald's workers allege racial dscrimination; sexual harassment:
(Danville, Va.) -- Ten former McDonald’s workers in Halifax County are suing the company and a local franchise owner, claiming racial discrimination and sexual harassment.  The suit, filed last week in Danville Federal Court, targets Soweva---a company that purchased three McDonalds in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties in late 2013.  The plaintiffs claim they were suddenly fired last May; after months of hearing racially discriminating remarks from their Supervisors.  One female employee says a manager inappropriately touched her.

ACLU opposes local lawmaker's bill:
(Richmond, Va.) --
There’s already high-profile opposition to a local lawmaker’s bill targeting pregnant women who are using illegal drugs.   The ACLU says they will fight the measure from Chatham Delegate Les Adams.  That measure stemmed from a recommendation last year from the Criminal Law Subcommittee.   It allows child protective services to investigate claims of drug use by pregnant women.    The ACLU says policies that threaten women with the loss of their children drive them away from health care and discourage them from seeking prenatal care and drug treatment.   Adams says that shouldn’t be a problem.  The bill is now in a House Committee.

Jury recommends 15 years for murder conviction:
(Chatham, Va.) -- A Chatham jury on Friday recommended Teu Medley Pointer serve 15 years in prison for the stabbing death of her husband last April.
      The same panel convicted her of murder at the conclusion of a two-day trial Thursday night. It took jurors about an hour to fix her punishment Friday. She had faced a possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
      Teu said she and her husband had argued on the phone about their children.  When he got home, the fight escalated. She testified that John hit her and knocked her glasses off, and claimed her husband was holding her down and choking her. That's when she says she bit him and grabbed a knife.
      The defense claimed John lunged at the knife, while the prosecution contended Teu stabbed him.  
     Pointer, who is a former Pittsylvania County School Guidance Counselor, was convicted of second-degree murder. 

Bipartisan support for reforms of Va. tobacco commission:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and a powerful Republican lawmaker are proposing tighter grant-making rules for the embattled Virginia tobacco commission.
      The commission's chairman, GOP Del. Terry Kilgore, introduced legislation Friday that would require greater scrutiny and transparency over how the commission spends its funds. The legislation is backed by McAuliffe. 
      Created 16 years ago to spend Virginia's portion of the national tobacco settlement, the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission has doled out more than $1 billion on a wide range of projects in an effort to spur economic development in southwest and Southside Virginia.
      The commission has come under fire recently for what critics say is an opaque, haphazard system of awarding grants often based on political considerations.
Virginia bar suspends law license of convicted ex-governor:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) - The Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board has suspended former Gov. Bob McDonnell's license to practice law, citing his felony public corruption convictions.
      The bar said Friday that the suspension takes effect next Thursday. McDonnell was directed to appear before the disciplinary panel on Feb. 20 to show cause why his license should not be further suspended or revoked. However, the former governor is scheduled to report to federal prison on Feb. 9 to begin serving his two-year sentence.
      According to the bar, McDonnell's license also was administratively suspended for nonpayment of dues to the organization since Oct. 15.
      McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of accepting gifts and loans from a vitamin executive in exchange for promoting his products. Maureen McDonnell will be sentenced Feb. 20.

Another not-guilty plea in teen's abduction:
(Chatham, Va.) – Another Not Guilty plea yesterday from one of the suspects in last year’s abduction of a Pittsylvania County teenager.  24-year old Kevin Scott Parrish (pictured, left) will be tried February third, alongside 21-year old Kayla Michelle Hoy (pictured, right); who pleaded not guilty earlier this week.  36-year old Denise Shaver’s trial is set for February tenth.  The trio is charged with taking 15-year old Dustin Wade Shaver from his foster parents’ home in Long Island last July.  He was found safe a few days later in Benson-North Carolina.  Denise Shaver is Dustin’s biological mother.  State police look for box truck in fatal hit-and-run:
(Henry County, Va.) – Virginia State Police have identified the vehicle that may have been involved in a fatal hit-and-run that happened on Dec. 22 in Henry County.
      State police say a white International, 3-axle box truck with a silver car in tow was in the area at the time 66-year old Hubert L. Griffin was struck and killed on his bicycle. Both the box truck and Griffin were northbound on Route 220, with Griffin being struck from behind. The box truck, which did have a logo on the side, could have damage to the front passenger side.
       Griffin was riding a metallic gray, 21-speed Mongoose bicycle that was hit by a vehicle on Route 220/Virginia Avenue, just north of Bassett. He was thrown from the bike and struck as well. Griffin was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. His remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy.
     Anyone with information about the vehicle is asked to call the Virginia State Police at 540-375-9500. Griffin and his bicycle were struck at around 10 p.m. on Virginia Avenue near Towson Drive, in front of Kennett's Used Cars and The Pool House.
Foundation awards Halifax Co. grants:
(South Boston, Va.) – The Danville Regional Foundation’s Fund for Halifax County has awarded its third round of grants. The Halifax County Advisory Committee chose Triangle Volunteer Fire Department and Halifax County Emergency Services to each receive $525 grants. The committee also awarded the South Boston Medical Fund $475 to the American Red Cross Halifax Branch.  The checks were presented Thursday at The American Red Cross Office in Halifax.

Governor out of the hospital:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has been released from the hospital after receiving treatment for injuries he suffered on an African safari.
      McAuliffe's office announced Thursday morning that the governor had been released from Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond and has resumed a schedule of meetings and private events.
      Several weeks ago McAuliffe was thrown from a horse during a family vacation in Tanzania and broke seven ribs. He entered VCU Medical Center on Monday after suffering shortness of breath.
      While hospitalized the governor underwent a two-hour surgical procedure in which doctors drained 1 1/2 liters of blood from his right lung, which was punctured in the accident.
Global company to set-up operations on the Southside:
(Richmond, Va.) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday that Hardide Coatings, Inc., a manufacturer of advanced surface coatings, will invest $7.25 million to establish its first Virginia operation in Henry County. The investment will create 29 new jobs with an average salary of $50,000.
      Virginia successfully competed against Oklahoma and Texas for the project, which is a result of Governor McAuliffe’s meeting with company officials outside London during the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow.
       Hardide Coatings is the leading global maker of advanced tungsten carbide-based coatings that significantly increase the life of critical metal parts operating in abrasive, erosive, corrosive and chemically aggressive environments. The company was formed in 2000 by a team of U.K.-led venture capitalists to develop and commercialize a process that was invented by scientists in Soviet Russia at Moscow State University.    
     McAuliffe approved a $150,000 grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Henry County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $170,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program.


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