04:59pm, 10/31/14
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Friday, October 31, 2014
Updated 10/31/14 @ 4:45 pm

South Boston employee injured in freak accident dies:
(South Boston, Va.) -- Sharon Nelson has died from injuries she received after she became trapped under a heavy vault door in South Boston Tuesday. Nelson, who was the Accounts Payable Specialist with the Town of South Boston, died at Duke University Medical Center Friday morning. She was an 11-year employee of the town.
      Nelson was airlifted to Duke University Medical Center in critical condition Tuesday morning after a freak accident in which she was pinned underneath the vault door in her office.
       South Boston Town Manager Timothy Wilson said in a statement that she was opening the door to the vault when the door disconnected from its hinges and fell on Nelson, pinning her underneath.
      It took four men to lift the heavy steel vault door off Nelson, who was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Durham later in the day Tuesday.
      An investigation into the accident is continuing.

VIR tire research center consolidating & expanding:
(Alton, Va.) -- A company that specializes in tire research is expanding and consolidating its operations at Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County.
      The National Tire Research Center and the Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Labs Center will now be known as the Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation, or G-CAPS.
     Executive Director Frank Della Pia says the new name reflects the international scope of the operation, which now has clients in Asia and Europe, in addition to North America.
     The operation has also grown from a handful of employees to more than two dozen today. The tire research facility is a three-shift operation.
      Della Pia says in addition to the rebranding, G-CAPS is also expanding, adding a virtual design and integration laboratory. As that arm develops its math modeling and simulation capabilities, he expects the department to grow from four employees to 10-to-14.  
     G-CAPS will continue its affiliation with Virginia Tech as it expands beyond a tire research and testing facility.
    Della Pia has served as executive director since the tire center opened in 2013.

New poll shows Senate race tightening:
(Newport News, Va.) -- A new poll suggests Virginia’s high-profile Senate race is tightening, but the incumbent still has a solid edge.  A survey today from Christopher Newport University shows Democrat Mark Warner (pictured, left) with 51-percent support---as compared to 44-percent for Republican challenger Ed Gillespie. (pictured, right)  Gillespie has picked up five percent since a poll earlier this month; but the survey suggests most of that has come at the expense of Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis; who is now polling at only two percent. 

Pitt Co. Supervisors to weigh staggered terms:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County Supervisors are thinking about following the School Board’s lead and moving to staggered terms.  They’ll hold a public hearing Monday night in Chatham to hear from county residents.  Right now, all seven Supervisors are up for election every four years.  Under staggered terms, four seats would be up for grabs in one cycle---the other three would be voted in two years later.  To sync up with the School Board’s Elections, Supervisors in Dan River, Bannister River and Gretna-Callands would be elected for two-year terms next year.  They would be up for re-election in 2017.

"In God We Trust" debate looming in Danville:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council next week will begin debating a plan to post “In God We Trust” in Council chambers.  It’s part of an effort by a national group that’s convinced 26 localities in Virginia and nearly four-hundred across the US to post the national motto in government meeting areas.  Supporters say the move is constitutional; and they’ve promised legal defense for any locality that is sued.  Councilman Larry Campbell is leading the local effort.

 

Council mulls purchase for trail access:
(Danville, Va.) -- A few weeks after opening up the newest portion of the Riverwalk Trail, city leaders are now mulling a proposal to make it easier to get to.  The new portion runs behind businesses on Riverside Drive.  The owner of a seven-acre parcel near the Dan River Church is offering to sell to the city for 40-thousand dollars…it’s assessed at over 300-thousand.  Parks and Rec officials say this would serve as a parking area to access the new part of the trail.  (See map above)


Hannah Graham suspect set for court appearance:
(Fairfax, Va.) -- The man accused of abducting University of Virginia student Hannah Graham is being arraigned today on an unrelated sexual assault from nearly a decade ago. Jesse Matthew will appear in Fairfax County Circuit Court via video from a jail in the Charlottesville area, where he's being held. Matthew was indicted earlier this month for allegedly sexually assaulting a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax in 2005. 
 


 

DUI charges in Grove Park crash:
(Danville, Va.) -- A 66-year old Danville woman is facing DUI charges after running her car into her home’s living room yesterday afternoon.
          Danville Police say it happened in the three-hundred block of Pendleton Road in the Grove Park subdivision shortly after 3 p.m.  They found a Ford Fusion was sitting inside of a brick frame home.
          Police think Cheryl Allen sparked a small fire by trying to back out of the house and spinning the tires hard enough to ignite some paper on the floor. The fire caused little damage.
          Investigators think Allen backed out of her driveway, went across the street and up a neighbor’s lawn.  She hit a tree with the back of her car.  They think she panicked and hit the gas, heading back across the street, up her driveway and crashed into her house.
          Allen charged with DUI and driving on a suspended license. No one was hurt.  Police estimated damage to the home at $20,000 --- $6,500 in damages to the Ford. (Photo: Leonard Harville)

Jobeless rates down, along with workforce participation:
(Danville, Va.) -- The good news is the Danville area jobless rate is down sharply from a year ago.  The bad news, there are a thousand fewer people in the local workforce.  The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics says Danville and Pittsylvania County lost two-and-a-half percent of the workforce over the past 12 months---the second-highest drop in the nation, behind only Atlantic City.  The reduced number of available jobs helped lower the unemployment rate from 8-point-3 percent a year ago, to 7-point-2 percent in September.  In Virginia, Martinsville’s 11-point-one percent jobless rate was the highest in the state.


Third suspect convicted in home invasion:
(Chatham, Va.) -- A 33-year old Danville man who forced his way into a house on Halifax Road last fall could spend the rest of his life in prison.    
          A Pittsylvania County jury yesterday recommended three life terms plus 13 years in jail for Enrique Hernandez.  He and two relatives forced their way into a home in the county last September and shot the homeowner during the course of a robbery.
          The homeowner says three armed Hispanic males forced their way into his house in the Java area and demanded money. When he told them he didn’t have any, he was blasted by a shotgun. The trio fled but were arrested a couple of days later when deputies went to investigate a drug call on Mount Cross Road. The two other suspects have already been convicted and sentenced.


Rocket explodes off Virginia's Eastern Shore:
(Wallops Island, Va.) (AP) -- Orbital Sciences Corp. says it hopes to know soon what caused a liftoff explosion of its supply rocket on Tuesday evening at its launch site in Virginia.
          Company executive vice president Frank Culbertson says things began to go wrong 10 to 12 seconds into the flight and it was all over in 20 seconds. What was left of the rocket came crashing down into a fiery blast that sent flaming debris flying over the beach-side launch area in Wallops Island.  An innkeeper 16 miles away witnessed the explosion.
          The supply capsule was ferrying 5,000 pounds of cargo to the International Space Station. The payload included supplies and scientific experiments. NASA says none of it was needed crucially.
          NASA says Orbital Sciences had insured the project, valued at more than $200 million. NASA is paying several space firms billions to make deliveries to the orbiting lab.


Danville Humane Society proposes regional shelter:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Area Humane Society has submitted a proposal to Pittsylvania County for the operation of a regional animal shelter run by the DAHS.
      Since 2007, the shelter has had an agreement to accept cats from Pittsylvania County animal control. Negotiations between the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County resulted in a monthly payment of $3,950, based on the total percentage of animals received from the county, not just the stray cats that the animal control officers bring to Danville.
      In 2012, the animal shelter built an adoption center. This center is attached to the public animal shelter, and houses both City of Danville and Pittsylvania County animals
     Director Paulette Dean says that a regional shelter would serve the needs of Danville and Pittsylvania County. About 50% of the animals received annually come from Pittsylvania County. 
      Under the plan, the shelter could accommodate an additional 1,100 animals than the current county public animal shelter receives. 
      Dean proposes a three-year contract to manage the combined facility. Under the plan, Pittsylvania County would build a 700 square foot room onto the current Danville animal shelter. This room would serve as a housing area for puppies and small dogs. The estimated cost of construction would be capped at $100,000.
     Pittsylvania County would also purchase 15 banks of Shoreline cages, with a purchase cap of $40,000. If the contract is terminated after three years, Pittsylvania County retains ownership of the cages.
     Pittsylvania County would also pay the DAHS $125,000 annually, in monthly installments.
     The Humane Society would provide monthly financial statements and a copy of the annual audit to Pittsylvania County; the shelter would vaccinate and de-worm dogs and cats upon intake, and seek veterinary treatment and care for sick and/or injured animals; the shelter would continue to provide spay/neuter programs for the residents of Pittsylvania County; and would have sole responsibility for the adoption program, promoting adoption partnerships with rescue groups.
      An additional 2-to-3 employees would be hired to help take care of the higher number of animals and Danville would assist County animal control officers, when possible, in transporting animals to the shelter.

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