Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Updated 9/2/14 @ 1:05 pm
Former Va. governor's corruption case goes to jury:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- The public corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is in the hands of a federal jury.
The seven-man, five-woman jury left the courtroom to begin deliberations Tuesday after hearing nearly two hours of instructions from U.S. District Judge James Spencer. The jury heard from dozens of witnesses over a five-week trial.
The McDonnells are charged with doing special favors for Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.
Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing other than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Maureen McDonnell did not testify.
Williams testified under immunity that he spent freely on the McDonnells only to secure help promoting his company's chief product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc.
Danville School Board holds final public hearings:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville School Board will offer two more chances today to hear what folks want to see in the next Superintendent.
The panel will meet in the cafeteria at Johnson Elementary School from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Then in the auditorium at Langston Focus School from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Last month was the first time the board has discussed the upcoming search process since Edward Newsome stepped down this summer.
Several supported current interim Superintendent Doctor Kathy Osborne as the person for the job. She’s a long-time local school administrator; serving the past several years as an Assistant Superintendent.
The school board hopes to have a superintendent in place by the first of December.
City Council to vote on retiree bonus:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council will vote tonight on a bonus for qualified city retirees. The total cost will be nearly $450,000. The recently-revised City Code does not provide cost-of-living increases or bonuses to retirees. But bonuses are allowed when cumulative inflation growth since the last pay adjustment reaches five-percent. To qualify, the Retirement System’s funded status for the prior fiscal year has to be at least 90-percent…and the City’s contribution is no more than 12-percent. They approved a first reading last month, with final approval set for tonight. At least two Council members have indicated they will vote against the idea. If approved, staffers will add the bonus payments to retirement checks issued in November.
Historic District zoning fight back before Council:
(Danville, Va.) -- A downtown building owner is again asking city leaders to let him keep 14 vinyl replacement windows he installed more than two years ago.
Richard Holbrook has appeal a ruling from the Commission for Architectural Review. They said the windows were a violation of the district's historic guidelines.
But Holbrook says the building at 1045 main Street has little historic significance. He says its one of many so-called "non-contributing" buildings in the Historic District.
Two years ago, Council voted five-to-three to uphold the CAR's ruling. Holbrook filed suit, then withdrew. In March of this year, he got a Final Notice of Violation giving him the right of appeal. In April, the CAR again denied the request to install the 14 vinyl windows. Council will take up the latest appeal when they meet next tonight.
Final approval set for Riverwalk extension grant:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council tonight is expected to sign off on a new state grant to finish up the latest portion of the Riverwalk Trail.
The Riverwalk - Riverside trail project began two years ago with 175-thousand dollar grant dollars from the state. It went over budget last year with hydrological studies and bridge abutment design work.
The final part is to finish paving of the trail, and to install a 115 foot bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Sandy Creek. But three bids to pay for that came in higher than expected.
The Danville Parks and Recreation Department recently got almost $50,000 from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation. Council tonight will vote on the city’s 20-percent share.
Tobacco commission grants go to family connections
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- A review by The Associated Press has found that a Virginia commission that invests money from a national tobacco settlement gave $21 million to an economic development group and a telephone cooperative run by family members of the commission's powerful chairman.
The grants are not illegal, but they are part of a rocky history of questionable spending of the Virginia Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. The commission controls about $600 million in cash and investments.
The commission's chairman is Terry Kilgore, a Republican state legislator from a powerful political family. He says his family relationships have not influenced the commission's spending.
The commission has long been under scrutiny from various state officials and is part of an FBI investigation into the resignation of a Democratic state senator.
Car hits house in north Danville:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police have filed charges after a crash Sunday in which a can ran into a house in the 300 block of Terry Avenue.
The call came in at around 12:30 in teh afternoon. Police say a 2004 Jeep Cherokee was traveling south on North Davis Drive when the driver came to the intersection with Terry Avenue and continued through a stop sign. The driver lost control of the Jeep and hit the house. There were six people in the home at the time.
The driver of the Jeep was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment of non-life threating injures. One person in the house complained of injuries, but did not seek medical treatment.
The Jeep sustained some $5,000 in damages, while damage to the house was estimated at $15,000.
39-year old Duane Carlos Petty of Danville was charged with driving on a suspended license and failure to maintain control of his vehicle.
Henry Co. man dies during police pursuit:
(Bassett, Va.) -- State Police say a Bassett man was killed in an accident in Henry County Saturday night after he tried speeding away from deputies.
It happened on Blackberry Road in Bassett. Henry County Sheriff's Deputies tried to stop a vehicle in connection with a drug probe. The driver, 42-year-old Ernest Brian Brodie, drove off. State Police say the deputies chased Brodie, but then backed off.
Deputies found Brodie's vehicle a short time later on the side of the road, wrecked against a tree. Brodie was taken to Memorial Hospital of Martinsville where he was later pronounced dead. Police say Brodie was wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash
The State Police accident reconstruction team was called to assist in the investigation.
Smoke pours from an East Thomas St. home on Sunday
(Leonard Harville photo)
Danville home heavily damaged in fire:
(Danville, Va.) -- Unattended cooking sparked a house fire in Danville. The call came about 3:00 Sunday afternoon from a home in the 300-block of East Thomas Street. Danville fire officials say the home suffered heavy fire and smoke damage. The Red Cross is helping the residents with a place to stay. No one was hurt in the blaze.
Reidsville death probed:
(Reidsville, N.C.) -- Rockingham County deputies are investigating the death of a man found inside his Reidsville home. Deputies say family members found 44-year-old Michael Wayne Smith's body in his home on state Highway 65 around 10 p.m. Saturday. Authorities say they aren't sure what killed Smith and his body has been sent off for an autopsy.
South Boston man jailed in fatal crash:
(High Point, N.C.) -- A South Boston man who led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a fatal crash in Guilford County is being held in the Guilford County jail.
47-year-old Ronnie Fichera was charged with second-degree murder in the April 3 crash on Interstate 40, along with a felony charge of fleeing to elude.
Authorities say Fichera was driving his SUV the wrong way on I-40 when he collided with a Volvo. The other driver, 22-year-old Reagan Hartley of Willow Spring, died on the way to the hospital.
Fichera was hospitalized a month at Moses Cone, then transferred to Central State Prison hospital in Raleigh after he was formally charged. He was taken to the Guilford County jail this weekend. No arraignment date has been set.
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville leaders are looking for ideas on redeveloping two former school properties.
Earlier this summer, the School Board deeded over the building at grounds at W-Townes Lea (pictured, right) and Glenwood (pictured, left). That means the city has to now maintain the two properties. Staffers say other than the Glenwood Recreation Center, they have no need for the extra property.
The city will ask for bids from local developers on creative re-use of the two former school buildings. Staffers say they will base their decision on more than just the purchase price---they also want to choose a plan that best fits the respective neighborhoods.
W-Townes Lea closed several years ago. Glenwood closed after the 2012-2013 school year.