07:47am, 03/04/15
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Updated 3/4/15 @ 6:57 am

City Council tells Duke Energy to "Hurry Up!":
(Danville, Va.) – Danville leaders are holding Duke Energy’s feet to the fire, trying to get the utility to make amends for last year’s coal ash spill into the Dan River. 
     During last night’s Council meeting, several members addressed Duke Representative Davis Montgomery, who’s been given them periodic updates on Duke’s efforts to clear up the river and repair OTHER damage from the spill.
     Mayor Sherman Saunders says there are companies that stopped looking at moving to Danville after the spill…and others who have held off expansion plans.   So far, he says we’ve seen no movement from Duke...and no money.
            Councilman Lee Vogler says Danville has suffered more than any other communities in the wake of the spill.  Fred Shanks says the spill has thrown a monkey-wrench into the city's efforts to develop the Riverfront.  Vice-Mayor Dr. Gary Miller points out some people are drinking bottled water because they still don’t trust the tap water---even though tests have shown it’s safe to drink.

Danville man charged with murder in child’s death:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Danville man has been indicted for murder in the death last November of a 20-month-old child.
     A grand jury issued indictments Monday against 28-year-old Michael James Gill, Jr.,  of Danville. Gill was indicted for murder and felony child neglect in the death of Aleigha Grace Sadler. The cause of death is listed as homicide by blunt force trauma. Gill was served with the indictments in the Danville City Jail, where he was being held for probation violation. He continues to be held without bond.
      On the night of November 20, Danville fire and EMS personnel responded to a home in the 100 block of West Woodlawn Dr. for a report of an unresponsive child. The toddler was transported to Danville Regional Medical Center and subsequently flown to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment, where she died shortly thereafter.

Former paramedic's trial begins:
(Chatham, Va.) – A former Southside paramedic accused of sexually assaulting a patient is on trial this week in Pittsylvania County Circuit Court.  Keith Dean of Altavista is charged with aggravated sexual battery and other counts. At the time of the assault, Dean was employed by Regional One of Danville.  He allegedly sexually assaulted a female patient in the ambulance while en route to Lynchburg General Hospital last June. He was arrested in October after a grand jury indicted him. He has since been terminated from Regional One.  A jury was seat yesterday and heard opening statements.  More testimony is set for this morning.

Charges certified in Pitt. Co. assault:
(Chatham, Va.) – The case of a Gretna man, charged with malicious wounding after the death of a Chatham woman last year, is headed to a grand jury.
            A Pittsylvania County General District Court judge yesterday certified the charge against 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 prosecutors 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 in a jailhouse ceremony.

Rep. Hurt votes no on DHS bill:
(Washington, D.C.) – Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt was one of the “no” votes yesterday as the House passed a so-called clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.  The final measure did NOT include language designed to trump the President’s Executive Orders on Immigration.
     Hurt says he’s disappointed that Senate Democrats used procedural tactics to stifle debate on the fundamental issue - the Administration’s attack on the separation of powers established by the Constitution.
            Hurt says democrats are using the filibuster rule in the Senate to essentially maintain control of the chamber.  He says years of broken immigration policy have left us with insecure borders and innumerable costs on taxpayers.

Sweet Briar College to close:
(Amherst, Co., Va.)  Sweet Briar College will shut down this summer because of financial issues.
     The private women's college in Sweet Briar announced the Aug. 25 closure Tuesday in a news release. The college says its board of directors approved the closure on Saturday.
      Sweet Briar attributed the decision to what it calls "insurmountable financial challenges."
      President James F. Jones says in the release that he, the board and several alumnae have searched for solutions. But they concluded they couldn't change two realities.
      Jones says one reality is a decline in the number of students who choose to attend small, rural, private liberal arts colleges. The other is the unsustainability of an increase in the college's tuition discount rate.
Nyholm named an Influential Virginia:
(Alton, Va.) -- VIR majority owner and CEO Connie Nyholm has been named as one of the 50 most influential Virginians by VirginiaBusiness.com.
      The publication notes that last year, VIR welcomed 400,000 visitors, and with new events added to the roster this year, the total could reach 500,000.
      When away from the track, Nyholm serves on the boards of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, The Launch Place, VirginiaFIRST and the Roadracing Industry Council.
Virginia International Raceway, which initially operated from 1957 to 1974, had turned into a cow pasture before Nyholm and a business partner reopened the track in 2000.The 1,370-acre resort now draws thousands of visitors each year. It boasts five racetrack configurations, a kart track, skeet and rifle ranges, a spa and a restaurant.

Analysis blames foul water taste on algae blooms:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville has received confirmation that the taste and odor issues in the city’s drinking water are caused by algal blooms in the Dan River. City officials say the blooms now have passed.
      City water treatment plant operators say they have not noticed abnormal odor in the raw water for nearly a week but are still adding carbon as a precautionary measure.
      Interim Director of Utilities Jason Grey says it still may take a few more days for the taste and odor to be purged because of the length of time the water is in the storage tanks and the distribution system.  He says customers may notice odor in their hot water a bit longer because of the trapped gases in the hot water heater.
     The city is still testing the treated water leaving the plant for regulated contaminants. Those tests continue to show the water is safe to drink.

Pitt. Co. open to poultry complex:

(Chatham, Va.) --
A full-fledged poultry complex could bring up to 12-hundred jobs to Pittsylvania County, with an economic impact of up to $476 million.
     The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to draw up a resolution to support the idea.  An integrated poultry complex would include a hatchery, feed mill and a processing plant.  In addition to the jobs, it could also mean $1.8 million in estimated tax revenue for the County. 
     A consultant’s report says the closest processing plant is in Dobson, North Carolina, 75 miles from Chatham. That report listed several possible sites…including the former Burlington Textile plant site in Hurt, the Ringgold East Industrial site, the Cherrystone Industrial Park and the Berry Hill Mega Park.

Halifax Co. Supervisors to add tie-breaking member:
(Halifax, Va.) – The Halifax County Board of Supervisors is still without a leader…but the panel voted this week to make sure they’re never tied again.
      For the third month in a row, the panel deadlocked last night, four-to-four, on selecting a new Chair and Vice-Chair.
     The panel then approved the addition of a tiebreaking member.  That will be on  the ballot this November.  Residents of the entire county at large will elect the tiebreaker.  Their term will begin in January.  
     This person will not be a regular voting member of the board.  If the board has a split vote, the tiebreaker will cast the deciding vote.

Danville Utilities warns of bill payment scam:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Utilities is warning its customers about a scam involving a demand for immediate payment of their utility bill. A commercial business was the target.
      In this scam, the business received a phone call requesting the purchase of a pre-paid card for a “power reload,” to avoid a loss of service.
       The department does not contact customers by phone and demand immediate payment, and never asks or requires customers who have delinquent accounts to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid electric service disconnection. This is a scam.
      Customers who have delinquent accounts receive multiple notifications by letter from Danville Utilities over the course of several weeks prior to electric service disconnection -- never just a single notification one hour before disconnection.

Rockingham Co. authorities look for robbers:
(Rockingham County, N.C.) -- Rockingham County Sheriff’s Investigators are looking for two men who robbed Village Sweepstakes in Reidsville Sunday at around 4 a.m.
     Two males, dressed entirely in black with their faces covered with masks, came into the business and demanded money. One pointed a semi-automatic pistol at the employees, then robbed the business of an undisclosed amount of cash and a cell phone. They then drove away in a light colored, 4-door passenger car.
     Anyone with information about this armed robbery is asked to call the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office at 336-349-9683 or Rockingham County Crime Stoppers at 336-349-9683.

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Carol Metz

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