Friday, May 30, 2015
Updated 5/30/15 @ 8:55 am
Brush fire near Welcome Center:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Fire Department responded to a brush fire at 201 Stinson Drive near the welcome center. Two engines a brush truck and two command units responded. The fire was located on the right of way for a major electrical transmission line and access was very limited. Crews were able to contain the fire with the brush truck and hand tools.
The Virginia Department of Forestry was called in with 4 personnel and a bulldozer to assist. Crews were on the scene for approximately 2 hours and the fire consumed about two-and-a- half acres. There was no structural damage.
Pittsylvania County board prayer injunction upheld:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has lost another battle in the four-year struggle to start meetings with Christian prayer.
Federal Judge Michael F. Urbanski ruled Thursday that the supervisors’ practice of reciting Christian prayers at the start of each meeting remains unconstitutional.
The judge modified his injunction against the prayers based on last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Town of Greece v. Galloway, but refused to dissolve the injunction altogether, as the county had asked.
The high court ruled in the Greece case that the town didn’t violate the Constitution when it invited clergy from the community to deliver opening prayers at meetings. The court noted that even though most of the prayers were Christian, the invitation was open to all faiths, and town officials had no control over the content of the prayers.
But Judge Urbanski says that practice differs from Pittsylvania County, because “the prayers in Pittsylvania County were delivered by the Board members themselves.” He said that: (quote) “there is no distinction between the prayer giver and the government. They are one and the same.”
The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier ordered the board of supervisors to pay attorney fees to the ACLU totaling just over $74,000.
Rash of thefts from cars on the Kemper Road:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police are investigating a rash of thefts from cars. The majority of the thefts happened Thursday night and early Friday morning in the Kemper Road area.
Windows were knocked out of several cars, while others were entered through unlocked doors. Some of the items stolen include small amounts of money and electronics. There were two reports of wheels and tires being stolen off of vehicles.
The Danville Police Department is asking anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 793-0000, or email police at email@example.com. You may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
Police negotiator prevents man from jumping off a bridge:
(Danville, Va.) -- Emergency responders talked a man out of jumping off the Central Boulevard Bridge Thursday afternoon.
Callers notified police that a man was sitting on the north side of the bridge and was threatening to jump just about 3:00 this afternoon. Traffic on that side of the bridge was diverted and the Danville Fire Department’s Water Rescue Unit was called and a boat was requested to stand by under the bridge. Officers were also stationed on the banks of the river, in case the man jumped.
A police hostage negotiator was able to convince the man to climb back over the railing and the 38-year-old Ringgold resident was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center for a mental evaluation.
Allergease falls flat:
(Danville, Va.) -- A company that hoped to become a household name while bringing 150 new jobs to Danville has fallen short. And the city is on the hook for a loan that brought them to town.
Allergease -- a company that makes allergy relief lozenges -- moved their headquarters into a portion of the Pemberton Building on Bridge Street. The company planned to set up a warehouse and distribution operations on nearby Newton Street.
Two years ago, the Tobacco Commission awarded a $1.1 million dollar grant for the project, contingent on their meeting hiring and investment goals within three years. There is still a year remaining, but the company has fallen well short of its goals.
Council will vote next week on a four-year repayment plan to the Commission. It will be offset by $425,000 that remain from the original loan.
It’ll be the fifth time the city has had to repay the Commission for grants that didn’t pan out. Council has agreed to repay $600,000 dollars for the grant awarded to Macerata Wheels, $1.6 million for the U.S. Green Energy grant, and $1 million dollars each for grants given to Web Parts and GOK Furniture.
God's Pit Crew headed to Texas:
(Danville, Va.) – God’s Pit Crew is trying to round up supplies as quickly as possible today for a road trip to Texas to help out after this week’s floods. Crew Chief Randy Johnson says they’ve been able to make contact with several groups in some of the hardest-hit areas. The problem is, their supplies are low after sending some two-thousand Blessing Buckets to Nepal following the recent earthquake. Johnson says they hope to have trucks on the road no later than tomorrow. But they’re waiting to see what their exact destination will be. Johnson anticipates they’ll return at a later date to help with long-term rebuilding efforts.
Fatal crash in Henry County:
(Henry County, Va.) – A Henry County man died after he was thrown from his pickup in an accident on the Oak Level Road.
Trooper R.L. Lawson says the two-vehicle crash happened about 9:00 Tuesday night.
A Ford F150 pickup truck was southbound on Oak Level Rd when it crossed the center line and sideswiped a GMC Yukon. The pickup then ran off the left side of the roadway, struck an embankment and overturned, ejecting the driver.
The driver, 25-year-old Jamie Deond Turner of Bassett, was transported Martinsville Memorial Hospital, where he died a short time later. Turner was not wearing a seatbelt.
The driver of the Yukon was not injured.
Virginia State Police are continuing their investigation.
Larson named new CEO for Danville Regional Medical Center:
(Danville, Va.) -- Alan Larson has been named the Virginia market president and the new CEO of Danville Regional Medical Center, effective Aug. 1. Larson will also have regional oversight of both DRMC and Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County while leading the daily operations of DRMC.
Larson joins LifePoint from TD HealthCare, a healthcare consulting and interim leadership organization that Larson founded and has led as CEO since 2006. He replaces Jerry Dooley, who has served as interim market president and CEO of DRMC since November 2014. Memorial Hospital CEO Michael Ehrat will report to Larson and continue leading the Martinsville and Henry County facility.
Victor Giovanetti, chief operating officer of LifePoint Health’s Eastern Group of hospitals, said the company was “thorough and deliberate” in its efforts to “find the right leader” for the local hospital and that “Alan stood out as the strongest candidate.” He cited Larson’s leadership experience within both the hospital and health system settings.
Prior to TD HealthCare, Larson served as senior vice president of Mercy Health System of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a five-hospital system, and as CEO of the system’s Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus from 2003-2006. He previously served in leadership roles at hospitals within Community Health Systems, NetCare Health Systems Inc., and HealthTrust Inc. systems. In addition, Larson was one of eight founders of a start-up ambulatory care company in Nashville, TN.
Council delays budget vote amid compression concerns:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council hopes to settle a dispute over employee pay raises next week before voting on the entire city budget.
At a work session next Tuesday, council members will hear from staffers on what they can afford and NOT afford.
City workers haven’t had merit raises or a pay-for-performance review system since the mid-to-late nineties. They got cost-of-living increases instead.
City Manager Joe King said that resulted in city workers earning less than workers in other localities, making it hard to retain employees or attract new ones.
Last year, the city gave employees compression increases meant to get employees closer to the pay scale they would have been making if raises had not been skipped. This year, a pay-for-performance system was put in.
But the City’s Public Safety workers addressed Council last week, saying the new system was unfairly impacting their more veteran employees.
Suspect in Eden shooting surrenders:
(Eden, N.C.) -- Police in Eden say a suspect in a shooting Tuesday that put a nearby school on lockdown is in jail, being held under 150-thousand dollars bond. 25-year old Steven Antwan Malloy is charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of 26-year old Jalessa Settle. She was found shot around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, not far from Douglass Elementary School. She was sent to Moses Cone Hospital for treatment of at least one gunshot wound to the stomach. The school was locked down as a precaution---students were dismissed a few minutes later. Malloy surrendered to police yesterday evening. His first court hearing is set for June tenth.
FTC approves Reynolds, Lorillard merger:
(Greensboro, N.C.) -- Reynolds American's proposed $25 billion acquisition of rival Lorillard has cleared a key regulatory hurdle to move closer to completing a deal that will unite some of the nation's top cigarette brands.
The Federal Trade Commission gave its consent Tuesday after wrapping up a 10-month review that concluded Reynolds' previously announced divestiture plans will be enough to preserve competition in the U.S. cigarette market.
Camel cigarette maker Reynolds is creating another competitor by selling its Kool, Salem, Winston, and Maverick brands to the U.K.'s Imperial Tobacco for $7.1 billion. To get the deal done, Reynolds is also selling Lorillard's Blu e-cigarette brand to Imperial in addition to a Greensboro, North Carolina plant.
The Lorillard acquisition will put Reynolds in a better position to challenge Altria, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.
Kittens die in early-morning fire:
(Danville, Va.) -- A family of three escaped a pre-dawn blaze Tuesday morning, but some of their pets weren't as fortunate. Three engines, a ladder truck and a battalion and safety officer responded to the call shortly before 5:00 from the 12-hundred block of Paxton Street. Crews found heavy fire showing from the front of the house. All of the occupants were out of the home, and the fire was under control within 20 minutes. Several animals were rescued from the burning building, but some kittens on the upper floor did not survive. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Memorial Day accident claims life of Bedford man:
(Salem, Va.) -- Charges are pending in a fatal crash in Franklin County.
Virginia State Police Trooper S. A. Richardson is investigating the two-vehicle accident that happened on Route 122 and Route 636 in Franklin County.
A Hyundai Sonata was northbound on Route 122 and was making a left turn onto Route 636 when it was struck by a southbound Dodge Ram.
The 2013 Hyundai was driven by 29-year-old Tiffany M. McGuire of Hardy, Va. Elmer Cecil Johnson Jr., 64, was a passenger in the Sonata and died at the scene. Both driver and passenger were wearing seatbelts.
The 2011 Dodge Ram was driven by 32-year-old Charles A. Hunt, also of Hardy. Hunt was not injured.
Charges are pending. The accident remains under investigation.
Supervisors to tour poultry operations:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County leaders are ready to take the next step to try and recruit a full-fledged poultry operation to the area.
Board members have been invited to tour a feedmill and hatchery in Jetersville next week and a processing plant in Glen Allen, Va.
A study released earlier this year suggests Pittsylvania County is an "excellent fit" for the poultry industry. It says a full-fledged poultry complex – including a hatchery, feed mill, and processing plant -- could have an economic impact of $476 million and bring 1,200 jobs to the county.
The study 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.