Sunday, March 9, 2014
Updated 3/9/14 at 12:00 am
Cause determined in house fire:
(Danville, Va.) -- An electrical short caused a fire off West Main Street that left a Danville family homeless.
The Danville Fire Department was called to 615 Hunter St. at 7:07 Saturday morning. Firefighters found the blaze had spread from the kitchen through the ceiling, engulfing the entire attic. Shortly after arrival, flames shot through the roof. Fire crews were able to knock down the flames from the exterior of the home.
All the occupants of the house made it out safely and there were no injuries to firefighters. A pet dog was found hiding under the living room sofa and was rescued from the burning building; however, a second dog died in the blaze.
Battalion Chief Dallas Swiney says the house was a total loss Three engines, one ladder truck, a command unit, a safety officer and two staff personnel responded to the call.
The Danville Fire Marshal's office investigated and traced the cause to an electrical short in some wiring. The single-story, frame home was gutted by the fire.
The incident commander arranged for the family to be put in touch with the American Red Cross and the agency is assisting them in finding temporary lodging and assistance. (Photos: Leonard Harville)
Danville snow plows hit Riverside Drive.
(Leonard Harville photo)
Storm system moves out of Southside:
(Danville, Va.) -- The National Weather Service says the Danville area received much more snow than predicted. Meteorologist Patrick Wilson admits "none of the models had a great handle on this situation." He says a wedge of high pressure kept the cold area pinched against the eastern side of the Blue Ridge." According to Wilson, when this moisture fell into that colder air, "it cooled everything aloft and we got more snow."
The original forecast called for more sleet than snow, which would have cut down on the total accumulation.
There was a mixture here in Danville, with twice the amount predicted.
Wilson says temperatures should rise to the 60s on Saturday, reaching 70 by Monday afternoon.
In Danville, crews began plowing at 10 p.m. Thursday, as snow began to coat road surfaces. Crews continue to work to clear secondary streets and neighborhoods. Danville Public Works snow removal crews have moved into the residential areas and will continue plowing these streets Saturday.
Danville Police report only a few weather-related accidents. Danville Utilities reported no power outages as a result of the storm. Duke Energy said more than 300,000 customers were without power Friday morning. The biggest problems were around Greensboro, Burlington and Asheboro.
Danville Transit buses used snow routes Friday. There was one major accident in the region. A tractor-trailer overturned on Route 220 near Lee Ford Camp Road, about three miles from the North Carolina line, blocking both southbound lanes.
(Richard Davis photo)
Judge: Duke must clean up contaminated groundwater:
(Charlotte, N.C.) -- A North Carolina judge says Duke Energy must take immediate action to eliminate the source of groundwater pollution at its coal ash dumps.
Wake County Judge Paul Ridgeway says state regulators failed to properly apply the law.
The ruling stems from legal action taken by the Southern Environmental Law Center in 2012.
The group asked the Environmental Management Commission to force Duke to take immediate corrective action when groundwater problems were discovered at the state's 32 ash dumps.
But the commission ruled against the environmental group in December 2012 and they appealed the ruling.
The judge's ruling comes a month after a massive coal ash spill from a Duke facility in Eden coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
Southside lawmakers briefed on spill:
(Richmond, Va.) -- In a meeting with local lawmakers yesterday in Richmond, Virginia DEQ Director David Paylor said they’ve collected fish samples and have more test results coming in. He said current tests show no tissue contamination. Paylor says they’ll meet with the EPA and the Tennessee Valley Authority next week.
Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward said several state agencies will be meeting with Duke Energy today. She says they’re expecting Duke to take full responsibility.
John Daniel with the Attorney General’s Office says Virginia will keep records of all costs, consolidate those records and report them in a timely way, so that Duke Energy can be held fully accountable. He says they're evaluating all legal avenues.
John Aulbach, Director of the Office of Drinking water, reported that they have had extra staff continually taking samples of the drinking water since the spill incident. There has been simultaneous independent testing. His department has performed the tests in Richmond, while Danville had an independent private analysis. Both results have deemed the drinking water to be safe.
Danville Police officer injured in crash:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police say a woman ran a red light Wednesday night and crashed into a Danville Police cruiser.
The call came in just before eight pm at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Piedmont.
Investigators say Officer E.R. Crane was eastbound on Memorial at the Robertson Bridge when his cruiser was hit by a westbound green minivan. The patrol car eventually slammed into a city utiltiy pole. The pole fell and narrowly missed his car.
The Danville Fire Department and Lifesaving Crew’s extrication team cut open the driver's side of the patrol car to get Officer Crane out. He was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released.
Police say Keishonta Robinson of Danville was driving the van. She also was treated and released---then charged with running a red light. (Leonard Harville photo)
Winter melt stirs up more coal ash:
(Danville, Va.) -- Firefighters and members of Danville’s Haz-Mat Team were on the banks of the Dan River off Memorial Drive Wednesday afternoon, checking out the coal ash sludge churned up by the massive melt following recent snowstorms.
The river near Union Street Bridge is a murky gray color again and chunks of coal ash can be seen around the buoys and large limbs and branches that have washed downstream.
A Fire Department Spokesman says members of the Hazardous Materials Team were sent to check out the situation after receiving complaints about a substance in the water.
“We believe this coal ash was stirred up from the bottom of the river due to the higher water flow as a result of the recent rain and snow,” Assistant Fire Chief Steve Dishman said. “This is something we expect to see from time to time with high water events.”
Barry Dunkley, director of water and wastewater treatment for Danville Utilities, said there have been no visible signs recently of coal ash entering the water treatment plant through the water intake at the river. All tests of treated water leaving the water treatment plant continue to show the water is clean and safe to drink, he said.
The city has notified the Virginia Department of Emergency Management of the incident.
Duke Energy’s coal ash pond in Eden, N.C., which dumped 39,000 tons of toxic sludge and slurry into the Dan River — the third-largest such spill in U.S. history — has refocused national attention on the environmental damage these holding ponds can render.
After weeks of downplaying the massive coal ash spill, North Carolina regulators issued violation notices Monday to five more Duke Energy power plants, in addition to two citations late last week at the site that polluted the Dan River a month ago.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources is now describing the Feb. 2 spill as an “environmental disaster.” (Leonard Harville photos)
Armstrong eyes judicial appointment:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- A former local lawmaker has his eyes on a Judgeship.
Ward Armstrong tells the Martinsville Bulletin has submitted a letter of intent to Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, asking their consideration for a soon-to-be-open seat in the Western District of Virginia. Judge Samuel Wilson is retiring in August.
Nearly a dozen applicants will be interviewed by a state bar’s committee March 26 in Richmond. The committee will send its evaluations to the senators, who will make a recommendation for an appointment to President Obama.
The 57-year old Armstrong spent 20 years in the House of Delegates. He first was elected in 1991, but lost a re-election bid to Delegate Charles Poindexter in 2011. This happened after he was drawn out of his district. Armstrong served as House minority leader from 2007 through 2012.
South Boston Police probe two deaths:
(South Boston, Va.) -- Police in South Boston are awaiting autopsy results, and notification of next of kin, before they release the names of two people were found dead on consecutive days this week.
On Tuesday afternoon, a neighbor saw a 64-year old black male lying unconscious on the front porch of a house on sixth street. He was pronounced dead---the body was taken to Richmond for an autopsy.
Yesterday morning at seven-thirty, another body was found---this one in a grassy area near Hodges Street. That person was a 59-year old black female. Her body is also set for an autopsy.
South Boston Investigators say they have no reason to suspect foul play.
City Manager unveils "status quo" budget proposal:
(Danville, Va.) -- Next year’s proposed city budget may not draw as much attention as the plans floated the past two years by City Manager Joe King.
The 99 (m) million dollar proposal submitted this week includes no suggestions for a cigarette tax, library closing, rate increases or layoffs.
King says the biggest new line item is three-point-seven (m) million dollars to begin instituting a merit pay system for city employees, and a compression rate to take care of inequities that have built up over the years.
King says they’re able to hold the line on real estate rates because of reassessment. Those revenues will increase $300,000 without touching the 73-cent rate. If they collect much more than that, King says they may have to advertise a tax increase, as per state law.
The budget comes in at 99 (m) million dollars---about three (m) million more than the current one. It also adds three full-time positions, and three full-time equivalent positions.
Council will hold three budget work sessions this month before finalizing a plan to submit for a public hearing.
14 candidates on the ballot in two city races:
(Danville, Va.) -- The ballot will be crowded in this year’s races for Danville City Council and the School Board.
At the filing deadline, there were 14 candidates. Nine will vie for four open seats on City Council, while five will compete for three School Board seats.
On Council, incumbents Alonzo Jones, Gary Miller and John Gilstrap are running for re-election. Adam Tomer will not run again.
Also on the Council ballot will be newcomers Madison Whittle, James Buckner, Dawn Witter and Justin Ferrell.
Former Councilwoman Joyce Glaise is also on the race, as is the Reverend Thomas Motley, who is launching his third bid for Council.
In the School Board race, incumbents Phillip Campbell and George Wilson are on the ballot, along with newcomers Henry Walker, Stephen Gould and Sharon Dones.