08:50pm, 02/01/15
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Sunday, February 1, 2015
Updated 2/01/15 @ 12:05 am

Wendell Scott's family gets their first look today at his plaque in the NASCAR Hall of Fame
(NASCAR courtesy photo)

Pitt. Co. School leaders push for pay hike:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Whether or not Pittsylvania County School Teachers get a one-percent pay hike could depend on the Board of Supervisors.  That pay increase was the top priority identified last night by the School Board’s Budget Committee.  Superintendent James McDaniel says with the likelihood of fewer state dollars, it’ll be up to Supervisors to make it happen.  Other budget priorities include upgrades to their Emergency Alert System, and money to fill at least three federal-mandated teaching positions.  They also want to hire two new teachers for their Career Academy and an assistant principal at the Career and Technical Center.

Local lawmaker targets mopeds with bill:
(Richmond, Va.) --
After nearly rear-ending a moped last fall on Route 58, a local lawmaker has introduced a bill in the General Assembly that would keep the motorized bikes off of major highways.  Danville Delegate Danny Marshall says he topped a hill east of South Boston doing 60 miles per hour…he nearly hit a moped in front of him, which was going on 35 miles per hour.  He was able to swerve and avoid an accident.   Marshall’s bill would make it illegal to operate a moped on any highway with a posted speed limit above 45.  The House Transportation Committee will weigh the measure.

Bond granted for assault suspect:
(Chatham, Va.) --
A Gretna man, charged with malicious wounding following the death of a Chatham woman last month is free on bond.
            The Star-Tribune reports a Pittsylvania County General District Court judge this week granted a $30,000 bond for 29-year old Henry Daniel Doss.  He’s charged with beating 44-year old Mary Adkins Hooker December second at a home on Daniel Road. Hooker died nine days later in the ICU at Danville Regional Medical Center.
            According to the court records, Doss allegedly grabbed Hooker “by her hair and banged her head on the floor six times. He then started punching Hooker with his fist multiple times.”  She suffered three broken ribs and possible nose fractures, along with a black eye and a bad contusion on her chest.
            Pittsylvania County haven’t decided whether to upgrade the charges.  They are waiting on an autopsy report.
            After his arrest in early December, Doss married his girlfriend Kim Daniel Dalton in a jailhouse ceremony.

Eden lawmaker files controversial bill:
(Raleigh, N.C.) --
A Republican State Senator from Eden filed a controversial bill yesterday.  Senate leader Phil Berger's measure would allow government workers who handle marriage licenses and civil weddings to refuse same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.  Last October, the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples and county Registers of Deeds had a new law to follow.  Rockingham County’s Magistrate refused to issue any licenses and had to resign.  The Berger bill seeks to remove penalties for refusal, based on an employee's conflict over religious beliefs.

Halifax Co. supervisor accepts plea deal:
(Halifax County, Va.) – Halifax County’s former school transportation coordinator has accepted a plea deal rather than stand trial for embezzlement.
     Earl Womack, who was also a Halifax County Supervisor, faced six charges of obtaining money under false pretenses and one count of embezzlement. Prosecutors say he took money from the school system.
      Womack entered an Alford plea to embezzlement, and to three counts of obtaining money under false pretenses, all felonies.
       Womack will be back in court on April 22 for his pre-sentence report.
Marshall wants gas pipelines to include broadband:
(Richmond, Va.) -- There are three major gas pipelines being proposed for Virginia---and a local lawmaker wants to use them to kill two birds with one stone.
            A bill introduced last week by Danville Delegate Danny Marshall would require pipeline builders to include a conduit, allowing fiber that would bring broadband service to portions of rural Virginia.  He says since they're willing to undertake the expense of laying down hundreds of miles of pipe, it would cost only a little extra to include a 6-to-10-inch conduit allowing fiber-optic cable.
            Under Marshall's bill, the company laying the gas pipeline would pay for the extra conduit...but they could get revenue from broadband providers who want to run fiber.  Marshall says this would bring broadband to parts of Virginia who otherwise would not have it for years.
            Plans are in the works for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, running from West Virginia to Pittsylvania County---and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would run through central Virginia into Brunswick County, then into North Carolina.
            The measure will first be heard in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.


The latest proposed extension of the Riverwalk Trail

Another extension in the works for Riverwalk Trail:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council next week will vote on a resolution to clear the way for the latest portion of the Riverwalk Trail.  That would connect the north end of the Robertson Bridge with Advance Street; running on the north side of the Dan River along Trade Street.  Council is scheduled to accept a gift of three-and-a-half acres of land from the Daniel Group.  That will allow the trail to run behind the movie theater.  The city has already earmarked 200-thousand dollars in local funds to go along with a 200-thousand dollar state transportation grant to pay for the extension.

Local population continues to fall:
(Danville, Va.) -- The latest population estimates for Southside Virginia are showing slight declines since the start of the decade.
            The 2014 estimates from the Weldon Cooper Center at UVA, show Danville lost 80 people over the past four years -- pushing the city just below the 43,000. That's based on the number of people lost since the April 2010 census.
            But that does little to offset years of decline. Danville’s population has dropped more than 3,300 since the 2000 Census.
            Pittsylvania County picked up 39 people since the Census.The county is now close to where it was population-wise, in the 2000 census.
            Henry County lost 878 people over the 50-month measuring period. Halifax County lost 63. Martinsville lost 80.

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.”

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 (pictured, left) 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.
     Henry Bowen (pictured, right) pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of grand larceny related to fraudulent overtime wages.  Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Newman says credit card statements showed Bowen was out of town during times he claimed to be working overtime in 2013. Bowen was ordered to pay back close to $2,000 and serve 18 months probation.
      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.

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