11:13am, 04/21/14
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Monday, April 21, 2014
Updated 4/21/14 @ 7:50 am

Halifax Co. woman charged with abandoning infant:
(Nathalie, Va.) -- A 25-year-old Halifax County woman was arrested Saturday after her five-month-old girl was found lying in a wooded area some five miles from her home.
          The Gazette-Virginian reports Rachel Pittman of Hodges Street called authorities just before eight o-clock Saturday morning to report her 5-month-old daughter, Virginia Anne, was missing.  She said she last saw the baby Friday night when she went to bed. When she woke Saturday morning she discovered the baby was missing.
          Investigators interviewed Pittman and found some of her statements were not accurate.  Deputies then began searching the Crystal Hill area for the baby. It was around 2 p.m. Saturday when Pittman finally admitted she had taken the infant down a farm road and left her in the woods around 9 p.m. Friday night.
          Pittman led authorities to baby---some 17 hours after being abandoned on a cold, rainy night.  Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark says the girl was dirty and hungry---they fed her and cleaned her up and took her to the hospital.
          Halifax County’s Department of Social Services was called in to take custody of the infant---later Saturday night she was released into foster care after getting a clean bill of health.
          Pittman was charged with felony child abandonment. More charges are expected. Pittman is being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.


Danville man charged with felony hit-and-run:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Danville man was charged Saturday night with a felony hit and run---this, after he allegedly drove away from an accident where a pedestrian was hurt.
          Police say 82-year-old Thomas G. Gill hit a Danville woman in the 400 block of Arnett Boulevard at around 9:20 p.m.
          The pedestrian said she was hit as she crossed the road, and the driver left the scene. She was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.
          Gill was arrested and released on bond. The police investigation is continuing.

Drowning at Farmer's Lake:
(Caswell Co, N.C.) -- Elon University will honor one of their own tomorrow with a memorial service. 
          Ed Watkins was an automotive mechanic in Elon’s Physical Plant department. He died this weekend in a boating accident in Caswell County.
          University officials say Watkins was fishing with Elon groundskeeper James Moore at Farmer’s Lake in Caswell County on Friday when their boat overturned.  Moore swam to safety and called 911, but Watkins drowned. A volunteer firefighter on the scene was unable to revive him.
          Watkins had been an Elon staff member since 2007 and was described by the school as a dedicated worker and friendly colleague.

"Get Fit Dan River Region" begins Week Three:
(Danville, Va.) -- Get Fit Dan River Region earlier this month launched a new fitness challenge.  They want folks to lose 50-thousand pounds over the next three months!  Organizers Stephanie Ferugia and Ciji Moore have now taken the challenge to Danville City Council. 
     12 team leaders are heading up the effort to get the community involved.  Ferugia says it everyone could lose just a half-pound between now and the Fourth of July, they’ll shatter their goal.
     Moore says obesity is a real problem on the Southside, with Danville near the bottom of the list. And, for the last four years, she said Pittsylvania County "has been slipping steadily, ranking at 91 out of 133 localities. Danville ranks 121 on the list from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 
     For more information, or to sign up, go to Get Fit Dan River-dot-Org.

City needs help to "Make Danville Shine!":
(Danville, Va.) -- Got some big cleanup projects you’ve been putting off?  You can take them up in a couple of weeks to help with the annual “Make Danville Shine” campaign during the month of May. To kick off the month, there will be an Expo at the Community Market May 1 from 3 to 7 p.m.  Emily Scolpini with Danville’s Housing and Community Development Division says folks can get advice on landscaping, painting, roofing, siding, masonry, electrical, plumbing, pest control and other home maintenance tips.  Last year, the city removed 210 tons of debris…and more than two-thousand tires. Groups can also pledge to clean up parts or all of their neighborhood and the city will make appointments for free use of roll-off containers, a grapple “bucket” truck and an 18-cubic-yard trailer.

NC State study: Dan River water safe for farm use:
(Raleigh, N.C.) (AP) -- North Carolina State University scientists say farmers along the Dan River can use surface water for crops and livestock despite a massive release of toxic coal ash more than two months ago.
      A report by three university researchers says lead, arsenic, copper and other contaminates have settled to the river bottom. The report says none of the hundreds of water samples tested exceeded guidelines for cattle.
      The sludge spilled into the Dan River comes from byproducts of burning coal at a Duke Energy power plant. Company spokesman Jeff Brooks said Friday the company did not pay the N.C. State scientists for their research.
      The nation's largest electric company has spent $15 million so far cleaning up the Feb. 2 spill that polluted 70 miles of the Dan River.



Rescuers work an accident on Aiken St. Thursday night.
(Leonard Harville photo)

 

Danville man charged in crash:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police say alcohol was a factor in a single-vehicle crash last night in the 300 block of Aiken Street. 
          It happened at around 9:00 PM. Police say a 2009 Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on Central Boulevard.  The driver lost control.  The car jumped a guardrail and came to rest on Aiken Street.  29-year old Kendal Jones was ejected. 
          He was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center---and later flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for further treatment.
          Police are charging Jones with Driving while intoxicated. The Chevrolet suffered about $15,000 in damages.


Duke says coal ash clean-up will not cost shareholders:
(Charlotte, N.C.) (AP) -- Duke Energy told shareholders Thursday that cleanup costs resulting from its massive coal ash spill into the Dan River won't have a big effect on their $50 billion company's bottom line.
     The nation's largest utility reports they’ve spent $15 million so far plugging the collapsed pipe at its Eden power plant that triggered a Feb. 2 spill and polluted 70 miles of the Dan River.
     Duke said it can't yet assess what costs may result from new laws affecting how the company handles the ash at its 33 coal ash dumps in North Carolina, or from future legal claims, litigation or environmental fines.
     Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas seeking records and grand jury testimony as part of a criminal investigation into the state's oversight of Duke's coal ash dumps.


The Launch Place announces new seed grant:
(Danville, Va.) -- A local group will invest $250,000 to help another high-tech company come to Danville’s River District.
     The Launch Place says the seed money for Raleigh-based SEAL Innovation will allow the company to commercialize their SwimSafe line.  Their wearable swim bands and state-of-the-art detection technology aims to improve swimmer safety by alerting guardians of any problems.
     SEAL Innovation will move into the River District---there’s no word on how many jobs they people they plan to hire.
The Launch Place on formed after getting a $10 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.  Their goal is to recruit, develop and retain entrepreneurs.
     In January, they announced a $250,000 investment bringing KSI Data Sciences to the River District.  In February, another quarter (m) million-dollar grant was used to bring CirrusWorks to the River District.


Competency questions to be re-evaluated in Terry case:
(Halifax, Va.) -- A court-approved psychiatrist last year said James Lloyd Terry was incompetent to stand trial for capital murder.  Now, Halifax County Circuit Court Judge Joel Cunningham will set a hearing to hear from doctors who’ve been treating Terry the past several months.
          In a motions hearing this week, attorneys said evaluators at Central State Hospital are reporting Terry is now competent to stand trial.  The 42-year old Terry is facing seven charges in connection with the April 2011 death of 84-year-old Charlotte Rice.  Her body was found in her North Main Street home in South Boston after police got a report of a breaking and entering.  They arrested Terry after a brief chase through neighbor’s yards. 
          Attorneys from Danville and Pittsylvania County are serving as special prosecutors in the case.  Right now, Terry’s trial is set to begin in September.  Attorneys say it could take up to a month.

ANB reports first-quarter profit:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville-based American National Bankshares netted nearly three-and-a-half (m) million dollars in the first quarter of 2014---down from last year’s profit of over four-point-one (m) million.  That’s down 17-percent.  CEO Jeff Haley says a large decrease in mortgage income played into the numbers.  That income fell $455,000 ---more than 63-percent from last year. Trust income was up 90-percent.  Total deposits are up slightly from a year ago.

Ridgeway woman killed in Henry Co. accident:
(Henry County, Va.) -- State Police are continuing their investigation into a fatal crash that killed a Ridgeway resident. The accident happened just before 6 p.m. Wednesday on Route 642, eight tenths mile east of Route 976 in Henry County.
       The preliminary investigation indicates a 1995 Toyota Camry that was being operated by 51 year old Rhonda Spencer Ray of Ridgeway was traveling on Route 642 when her vehicle ran off the right side of the roadway, overcorrected causing her vehicle to cross the center line and strike a 2011 Subaru Outback on the driver side. 
      Ray was not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

 
Thai restaurant coming to North Main Hill:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Thai restaurant is coming to Danville.
     Renovations are underway for Moon River Thai, which is locating adjacent to the North Theater on North Main Street. The restaurant expects to be operating within six weeks.
      The owners have operated four award-winning Thai restaurants and will partner with the North Theater to create special events.
     Customers will be entertained by Thai and jazz music, plus Hollywood soundtracks and standards.
      Moon River Thai will be open daily, with catering services for special events and business meetings.


God's Pit Crew needs bottled water:
(Danville, Va.) -- God’s Pit Crew has exhausted its stockpile of bottled water and hopes to replenish supplies this week at Danville Toyota.
     Crew Chief Randy Johnson says one of their trucks will be at the dealership through Saturday to receive donations. 
      Johnson says the shortage follows their response to a recent disaster in West Virginia. Eight counties near Charleston were affected by a massive chemical spill, which left the water unsafe for drinking.
    God’s Pit Crew sent 170,000 bottles to the area and that exhausted supplies in their local warehouse.
    Danville Toyota stepped up to the plate and volunteers will be at the dealership all week, collecting bottled water in one of the Crew’s trucks. Nascar driver Peyton Sellers (pictured, left) will be on hand Friday to help with the collection and to sign autographs.
    Johnson says -- with tornado season approaching -- it’s important to have a supply of bottled water on hand.


Va. Tech pays fines related to '07 shootings:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Virginia Tech has paid federal fines for its actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, when a lone gunman killed 32 people on the school's campus.
     The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday the university has paid two fines totaling $32,500 for violations of the Clery Act, which requires universities to issue timely warnings of campus threats.
     Student gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh) shot two at a dorm on the Blacksburg campus hours before his rampage at a classroom building. University officials have defended their decision to not alert the campus of the first shootings because police said that they were domestic in nature and that the broader campus was not at risk.

 
Danville School budget debate underway:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council and the school board will hold a joint meeting next week to continue budget talks. The talks began Tuesday night when school leaders presented their annual request for local funding. 
     School Board Chairman Ed Polamus says the board is asking for the same amount of money from Council as last year, roughly $17.4 million. That will help fund a 2% employee pay raise. He says the budget eliminates about 20 positions, primarily through attrition.
     It wasn’t the amount of local money requested that drew the attention of Councilman Adam Tomer, it was how the money is to be spent.  Specifically, he questioned a $700,000 contingency fund that’s built in to the school budget. Tomer also objected to what he called a sharp increase in administrative spending and a much smaller increase in classroom spending.
     Polhamus says those numbers will likely be much closer when the school board presents its final budget draft to council next Wednesday.


Citations going out to those without approved trash containers:
(Danville, Va.) -- The grace period for picking up garbage that is not in one of those new rolling containers has ended.
     Danville Public Works Director Rick Drazenovich says customers were required to purchase the approved containers by January first, but his department has been giving homeowners and tenants additional time to make the purchases.
     That grace period ended this month and refuse workers are now placing notices on the older, non-approved cans. Drazenovich says the code enforcement department will issue a notice of non-compliance and and then issue a citation. The trash will still be collected after three days, but the customer will be charged a $100 administrative fee for the special collection. 
 
     Drazenovich estimates that about 93% of Danville households are in compliance, with more purchasing the approved containers daily.
      If you haven’t bought one of the rolling carts, Public Works still has a few hundred for sale and another shipment is expected in early May.
        If Public Works runs out of the containers, a waiver will be applied, if the customer tries to buy a cart and they’re temporarily out-of-stock.

Supervisors to name new administrator this week:
(Chatham, Va.) -- The search for a new Pittsylvania County Administrator has ended.
    The Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, April 22, to name a new county administrator.
    The public meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the county administration building on Center Street in Chatham.
    The person chosen has not been identified, but is from Virginia and is familiar with Southside Virginia.
    The search for a new administrator began last September, when Dan Sleeper retired from the position.


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