Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Devastation from a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.
God's Pit Crew mobilizing massive response to Oklahoma:
(Moore, Ok.) -- It’ll be a bittersweet return to Oklahoma this week for God’s Pit Crew. It was a massive twister in the Sooner State in 1999 that led Randy Johnson to organize the crew. Tomorrow, they’ll send everything they have after last night’s devastating tornado.
The state medical examiner's office in Oklahoma is expecting more victims of yesterday's deadly tornado to be found today. For now, the official death toll stands at 24 -- revised downward from the initial tally of 51 dead. The higher number reflected double-counting that occurred on the ground and at funeral homes.
Johnson says they’ll also make use of equipment they had in Texas over the weekend. Several of those drivers were already headed back to Danville when the twister hit in Moore-Oklahoma. Those trucks will load up relief supplies in Tennessee and head out to Oklahoma.
Johnson says all that travelling is taking its toll on their financial reserves. He notes that it takes $2,800 to send just one truck on a round trip. You can make a donation through their website at God’s Pit Crew-dot-org. They’re also accepting supply donations at their warehouse on North Main Street. Johnson says they need bottled water, canned food, baby supplies, personal hygiene products and pet food.
Local restaurant assists God’s Pit Crew in Oklahoma:
(Danville, Va.) -- God’s Pit Crew will be getting some local help as volunteers head from Danville to Moore, Oklahoma.
The all-volunteer organization needs money for diesel fuel to take truckloads of bottled water and relief supplies to those left homeless by that EF-5 tornado, and the Checkered Pig has volunteered to help out.
This Thursday, 15% of the proceeds from every meal sold in Danville and Martinsville will be donated to the relief effort in Oklahoma.
WBTM and WAKG will be at the Checkered Pig throughout the day Thursday to encourage folks to respond.
Man jumps into Dan River to avoid trial:
(Danville, Va.) -- A 46-year old Danville man scheduled for a Circuit Court trial this morning left the courtroom and jumped into the river.
Anthony Falden was set to go to trial on a charge of possession of cocaine. Police say he left the courtroom, walked to the Martin Luther King Bridge, and got on the Riverwalk trail. From there, he jumped into the Dan River.
Police negotiators tried to get Falden to grab a buoy they tossed his way. They said Falden would grab the buoy, but then would let go.
Police got in contact with Falden’s family members by cell phone. When his daughter showed up, Falden came out of the water. He was a hundred yards downstream of the bridge. The incident lasted about thirty minutes.
Falden was not hurt, but he’s being taken to the hospital for an evaluation. Additional charges are pending.
Goodyear workers can expect delays today:
(Danville, Va.) -- Goodyear workers reporting to work Tuesday afternoon should expect traffic delays near the plant. Goodyear spokesperson Laura Singleton says the city is resurfacing Goodyear Boulevard, which is down to one lane of traffic. If workers are driving in from Hwy. 86, they should be prepared for delays. Singleton advises that workers instead drive to the plant on Industrial Ave. and take the Goodyear exit.
Fryer fire closes seafood restaurant temporarily:
(Danville, Va.) -- A fire at Long John Silver’s restaurant on the Piney Forest Road has forced the business to close temporarily.
Danville fire trucks were called to the scene just before 1:00 Monday afternoon. The manager advised firefighters that the restaurant had been evacuated and all employees were accounted for after a fryer fire. Attempts by employees to put out the fire were unsuccessful.
Firefighters found a small fire in the fryer, which had to be disassembled before using the restaurant’s extinguisher.
The restaurant was closed for business so the equipment could be repaired and the kitchen cleaned from the fire. Prior to reopening the restaurant will be inspected by the Fire Marshal's Office and the Health Department.
Uranium Mining foes say McAuliffe is on board:
(Danville, Va.) -- Uranium mining opponents say Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is in their corner. They’ll soon meet with freshly-minted Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli. The Roanoke River Basin Association says they met with McAuliffe earlier this month in Danville. They say he called Uranium Mining a “horrible idea.” Gov. Bob McDonnell has not decided his response to a suggestion that he direct state agencies to put uranium mining regulations in place to help guide the 2014 General Assembly if it considers ending a decades-old moratorium on uranium mining in Virginia.
Indictments handed down in Henry County homicide:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- A Henry County grand jury yesterday handed down an indictment in a domestic homicide from earlier this year.
It happened January 29th at a house on Bittersweet Drive in Bassett. Deputies found a woman suffering from what appeared to be a gunshot wound.
Investigators say 57-year old Linda Sue Mitchell was shot by her husband David. She was taken to Martinsville Memorial Hospital and later air lifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center --- where she died two days later.
64-year old David Mitchell is charged with first-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. He's being held in the Henry County jail without bond. A trial date has NOT been set.
Budget public hearing scheduled:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville residents will have a chance tomorrow night to weigh in on next year’s proposed budget---a budget that holds the line on real estate and personal property taxes…but call for increases in water and utility rates.
The budget also sets aside $1.13 million to implement the new pay classification and compensation plan under study. Under this new plan, preliminary figures show more than half of all city employees will receive a pay adjustment in the next fiscal year.
Danville Public Schools will receive the full $17.4 million as requested by the School Board. The budget also sustains support for key economic development and community programs like River District development and blight eradication.
The package includes four-(m) million dollars for redevelopment of existing buildings in the River District and industrial park development. In addition, $1.75 million goes toward blight eradication. The budget also includes bond money to complete the new Lynn Street fire station and 911-communication center, make improvements to the adult detention center and replace the Brantley substation transformer
Council to double down on blight fight:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville’s City Manager is asking City Council to step up the fight on blight. At a work session this week, the panel will look over Joe King’s proposals to continue blight eradication efforts.
The Proposed Capital Improvement budget includes $1.75 million to expand blight eradication. But King says there is also an 166 properties already in the "demolition pipeline." That includes 53 houses ready for asbestos inspections---63 houses ready for demolition---and 54 owners that have been issued demolition orders.
King says it’ll take more than two (m) million to handle those cases. Council is considering a proposal to make up the balance from the undesignated General Fund balance.
Danville leaders to weigh 10% hike in bus fees:
(Danville, Va.) -- City leaders this week will begin debating a proposal to increase mass transit fees to offset the loss in federal and state aid.
For 20 years, the Danville Transit System has received transit planning grant funds that subsidize salary and wages at ninety percent for staff involved with planning and reporting activities. Federal and state planning grant funds are provided to urbanized areas that maintain a population of 50,000 or more residents. But the Federal Transit Administration says Danville is no longer eligible because our population is now below 50-thousand.
Last month, the Transportation Advisory Committee approved a ten percent fee increase for all bus fares and a reduction in the half fare discount period for seniors and persons with disabilities.
City Council will begin discussion at a work session tonight.
Four students picked for Pitt. Co. School Board program:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Top students from each of Pittsylvania County’s four high schools will have a chance to help the county School Board next year. Superintendent James McDaniel says it’s part of their student liaison program. The students will have no voting power, but will be able to lend the student perspective to board members. The students are Nathalie Nicholson from Chatham High School---Rebecca Varnadoor from Gretna---Jamie Hodnett from Dan River---and Jordan Moorefield from Tunstall.
Danville names new school superintendent:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville School Board has chosen Edward Newsome, Jr. as the city’s new school superintendent, effective July 1.
Newsome comes to Danville from Maryland, where he serves as assistant superintendent of the Baltimore County school system. He succeeds Dr. Sue Davis, who is retiring after a long career in the local school system.
According to a news release, Newsome has more than 30 years experience in public education and has taught in the Washington, D.C. area and in Maryland. He has also worked as a principal on the elementary, middle and high school levels and in central office administration.
Newsome is an Army veteran and was born in Ahoskie, N.C.
Stolen lottery tickets redeemed as police search for suspects:
(Pittsylvania County, Va.) -- Lottery tickets stolen in a break-in at Barbers one-stop on Rt. 58 in Brosville have been redeemed and police have photos of the thieves.
Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputies are working with the Virginia Lottery to identify three people who made off with a large number of lottery tickets in the May 4 larceny.
The front door glass of the business was smashed and investigators have a video showing a hooded man entering, snatching a stack of lottery tickets and fleeing.
Lottery officials confirm tickets matching those taken from the store were redeemed at convenience stores in Henry County, Martinsville, Franklin County, Rocky Mount and Roanoke later that morning.
Surveillance video from the several of the stores show at least three people. They are believed to be driving a white, 2001– 2004 two-door Ford Explorer.
Anyone with information about this burglary should contact the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office at (434) 432-7931.