09:05am, 03/30/15
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Local News

 Monday, March 30, 2015
Updated 3/30/15 @ 7:30 am

Duke docks CEO's pay after coal ash spill:
(Charlotte, N.C.) – Last year’s coal ash spill in the Dan River cost Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good (pictured, left) about $606,000 from her compensation package.
     That’s according to regulatory filings made yesterday.  The report says Good’s salary, stock and option awards and other compensation totaled $8.3 million.
     Duke’s board cut payments made to its top executives under the company's short-term incentive plan by 35% to hold them accountable for the spill at the Dan River Steam Station.  Five other top executives also had their salaries trimmed.
     Last February, a stormwater pipe under the main coal ash pond at the Dan River plant in Eden collapsed. Over the next several days, it spewed about 39,000 tons of ash from the pond into the river.
     Duke has worked out a $102 million plea agreement in the criminal case brought by federal authorities. The judge is expected to consider the plea next month.

Danville records record low temperature:
(Danville, Va.) – Residents in Danville and Lynchburg woke up to record cold temperatures on Sunday morning.
The National Weather Service says the temperature in Danville dropped to 21 degrees. That broke the old record of 23 degrees in 1982. Lynchburg's low temperature was 17 degrees, which also broke a record set in 1982. The old record was 23 degrees. The weather service says a Canadian high pressure system over the southern Appalachian mountains produced a hard freeze over most of the region early Sunday morning. Temperatures were expected to remain 10 degrees to 25 degrees below seasonable levels on Sunday from the lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio River Valley.
WBTM News wins seven AP awards:
(Charlottesville, Va.) – WBTM's News team helped set the pace at this weekend’s Virginias Associated Press Broadcaster's Awards banquet. This was the second year that radio and televisions stations in both Virginia and West Virginia competed as a single region. That meant more entries and more competition.
            WBTM got a total of seven awards. Two Superiors and five Meritorious.
            For the 12th year in a tow, WBTM's coverage of G.W. High School football was honored.
            Our Kathryn Davis earned first place in the race for the Douglass Southall Freeman Award. Kathryn writes and delivers WBTM's "Health Beat" program on Mondays.
            Chuck Vipperman was named first placein the Best Sports Anchor category and meritorious in the Best Radio News Anchor competition. WBTM's website also earned meritorious honors.
            In the biggest competition, WBTM picked up Meritorious honors in the competition for Outstanding News Operation of the Year.

Franklin Co. leaders reject memorial proposal:
(Rocky Mount, Va.) – (AP) -- Franklin County officials have rejected a memorial for a missing woman because she is a convicted felon.
     The county's memorial naming policy doesn't allow structures named after people with felony convictions.
     Friends and family of Heather Hodges asked the Board of Supervisors to grant an exception so they could erect a memorial for her in a county park.
     The board voted unanimously last week to keep the memorial naming policy as it is.
     Hodges has been missing since April 9, 2012. She was 22 at the time. She was convicted of felony grand larceny in May 2008.

Pitt. Co. teachers one step closer to pay hike:
(Chatham, Va.) – Pittsylvania County School leaders are ready to take next year’s proposed spending plan to the Board of Supervisors. The School Board last week adopted an 84-and-a-half (m) million dollar package. Local funding is expected to be around $16.9 million.
     Superintendent James McDaniel says the plan also restores funding to the Career Academy, hires an assistant principal at the Career Technical Institute, while updating their emergency alert system.  He says they were NOT able to maintain three STEM Academy teachers.  They also have to find money for a Joint Facilities agreement with the County’s Recreation Department.
     The Board of Supervisors will vote on the local share at their April meeting.

Duke approves grant to help Riverwalk Trail:
(Danville, Va.) – Duke Energy is sending 100-thousand dollars to help launch the latest phase of the Riverwalk Trail.  Phase two, completed last year, runs the trail to near the former Danville Plaza Shopping Center.  Duke’s grant will be combined with 200-thousand federal grant dollars to run the trail further west, eventually linking up with the Robertson Bridge.  This will include a 115-foot bridge over Sandy River, and a 300-foot boardwalk to Commerce Street.  Duke Energy yesterday awarded the city a 100-thousand dollar grant from their new Water Resources Fund.  That ten (m) million dollar fund was formed last year in the wake of the coal ash spill.

Henry County man sentenced in fatal crash:
(Martinsville, Va.) –
A Henry County man was sentenced yesterday for his role in a fatal three-car crash on Route 57 in Bassett.
            It happened in November-2013. State Police say a Dodge Neon, driven by 70-year old James Wright of Bassett, was stopped to make a left turn.  He was rear-ended by a 2000 Saturn four-door, driven by 24-year old Skyler Maldonado of Collinsville. 
            The Neon was knocked into the eastbound lanes and hit a Henry County Sheriff's department vehicle that was being operated by Deputy Chris Spencer.
            Wright was airlifted to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. He died six weeks later.
            Last month, Maldonado pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and driving under the influence of methamphetamines.

Missing boy’s body found:
(Dublin, Va.) -- A 5-year-old boy missing from Pulaski County since Sunday has been found dead.
      The body of Noah Thomas was found in a septic or sewage tank, but so far no one has been arrested. Police received more than 100 tips from around the country in the search for Noah. Some said they had seen the boy, while others reported suspicious vehicles in the child's neighborhood.
      Noah was last seen on Sunday morning by his mother at the family's Dublin home
Authorities have said they did not suspect foul play and the family was cooperating.
     The boy’s body was discovered just hours after the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office announced a $5,000 reward for tips in the case.
Work continues on Pace Building:
(Danville, Va.) -- Renovations are underway at the Pace Building – formerly home to Wise Hundley -- at 322-328 Main St.
      River District Ventures LLC plans to convert this historic building into 14 one- and two-bedroom residential units and three commercial spaces. The residential units will feature high-end amenities, such as wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, and tile bathrooms. The street-level commercial units will range between 1,500 to 2,100 square feet. This new project will bring approximately $1.8 million of new investment into the River District.
     The developers plan to complete the commercial space by late summer and the residential space by October. Furnished residential units will also be available for lease.

Durham man charged with Caswell Co. hit-and-run:
(Caswell County, N.C.) -- The Caswell County Sheriff’s Department has charged 33-year-old Angel DeJesus Calderas-Marroquin with felony hit-and-run in a Wednesday morning accident that sent a 13-year-old to the hospital.
     A spokesman with the North Carolina Highway Patrol says Calderas-Marroquin is also charged with passing a stopped school bus, failing to report a collision, and driving without an operator’s license. He’s being held in the Caswell County Jail under a $500,000 bond.

      The incident happened about 6:15 Wednesday morning on Route 86, a mile north of the Orange County line.
     Troopers say a Dillard Middle School student was preparing to board his bus. The bus had stopped in the southbound lane of traffic, with its warning lights flashing.
     As the boy crossed the road, police say a northbound passenger car hit him, then left the scene. The teenager was airlifted to Duke Medical Center. His name and condition were not immediately available.
     A Highway Patrol spokesman says officers recovered a side view mirror at the scene. Witnesses reported that the car was a red, four-door passenger vehicle with damage to the windshield.

     Caswell County Sheriff’s Deputies found a car matching that description at a nearby construction site and took Calderas-Marroquin into custody.

Population losses continue in Southside Virginia:
(Danville, Va.) --
A troubling trend continues in Southside Virginia. New population estimates released this morning by the Census Bureau show we’re still losing people in the region.  The report shows the Danville-Pittsylvania County Metro Area population is now below 105-thousand. This, after the loss of more than 500 people over the past year, and more than 17-hundred since the official Census in 2010.  The numbers are similar in Martinsville and Henry County. They’ve lost nearly 500 people over the past 12 months---more than two-thousand over a five-year period.  Halifax County lost nearly 200 people in just the past 12 months.

Danville gets low marks in new Health Survey:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville's smoking and obesity rates are among the highest in Virginia. That's according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation.
      The survey shows Danville ranked seventh from the bottom among Virginia's 133 localities included in the survey.   Pittsylvania County ranked 79th.   That was the best in Southside Virginia.
     The report shows Danville in second-to-last place statewide in terms of socio-economic factors like education, income and the city's crime rate.  It also notes a high degree of physical inactivity and less access to exercise opportunities.
     The report also shows Danville’s Sexually Transmitted disease rate is twice the state average.
     Henry County and Martinsville also scored low in the survey---each ranking in the bottom ten in Virginia.  Halifax County was 96th…just beyond the lowest quartile.

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Carol Metz

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