06:13am, 07/11/14
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Thursday, July 10, 2014
Updated 7/10/14 @ 5:05 pm

Suspects sought in heavy equipment theft:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Police Department is investigating the theft of over $80,000 worth of heavy equipment from two businesses earlier this week.
      Early Monday, a tractor trailer was used to steal three pieces of heavy equipment from Collie Equipment on Industrial Avenue and Riverside Equipment Rentals on Westover Dr.
      From Collie, the thieves took a Kubota tractor and a Kubota front-end loader.  From Riverside, they made off with a Hitachi Excavator. One of the suspects is pictured above.

Chemical fire at Virdia Inc. on Slayton Avenue:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville firefighters responded to a call at Virdia Inc. on Slayton Avenue just after 12:30 Thursday afternoon.
     Firefighters found smoke in the building, but the fire was held in check by the sprinkler system and the remaining fire was put out with a portable extinguisher.
     The fire marshal has determined that the chemical Hydronol started the blaze, which also ignited some papers nearby.  
    Firefighters ventilated smoke from the building, monitored air quality, and began assisting maintenance personnel with water removal once the building was secure.
       Three engines, a ladder truck and 19 firefighters responded and remained on scene for two and a half hours.

Search for missing Pittsylvania Co. teen:
(Pittsylvania County, Va.) -- The Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Department is searching for a missing teenager.
     15-year old Dustin Wade Shaver was reported missing Monday from his home in the Long Island Community.
      The sheriff's office says Dustin was last seen wearing shorts and sneakers and he may have his dog with him. The dog is a tan beagle and pit bull mix.
       If you have any information call the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Department at (434) 432-7931 or Pittsylvania County Crimestoppers at (800) 791-0044.

State police ID accident victim in Halifax County:
(Halifax County, Va.) -- Virginia State Police have released additional details about a Tuesday accident that claimed the life of a Halifax County teenager.
    State Trooper D.L. Hughes identifies the victim as 17-year-old Charlie J. Phillips of Virgilina. Phillips was a passenger in a 2006 Toyota Matrix that was westbound on 601 when the driver -- also a 17-year-old male from Virgilina -- ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected and then ran off the left side of 601 before striking a tree. Phillips was pronounced dead at the scene.
      Hughes says charges are pending in the crash, which happened about 5:35 p.m. about one mile east of Route 58. The driver was transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
      Route 601 was re-opened to through traffic four hours after the accident.
      The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Republicans announce special session on Medicaid:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Virginia Republican legislative leaders are scheduling a special session in September to debate whether to expand Medicaid eligibility, something GOP lawmakers have already made clear they oppose.
     House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment announced Wednesday the General Assembly will be back into session during the week of Sept. 22.
     They said the special session was a fulfillment of promises Republicans made during a months-long budget impasse earlier this year to give a full and fair debate to Medicaid expansion, which both Howell and Norment said they continue to oppose.
     Most Republicans oppose expanding Medicaid, while Gov. Terry McAuliffe and most Democratic lawmakers support it. The governor has vowed to try and expand federally funded healthcare for the poor without legislative approval.

Polhamus re-elected Danville School Board chair:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville School Board last night voted unanimously to re-elected Doctor Ed Polhamus as Chairman.  He’ll serve two more years in that post.
          The only drama from last night’s reorganizational meeting came in the vote for Vice-Chair.  Terry Hall got four votes to beat out Renee Hughes, who got three.
          The panel also heard from Assistant Superintendent Juliet Jennings that all of the Principal and Vice-Principal positions in the Danville School system have been filled.  There are still 45 teaching vacancies.  But Jennings says 13 are being filling right now, and the others should soon follow.
          Last night’s meeting was the first since the Board accepted the resignation of former Superintendent Ed Newsome.  It was also the first meeting for new members Sharon Dones and Stephen Gould.

Hurt skeptical of President's funding request:
(Washington, D.C.) -- President Barack Obama is asking Congress for emergency spending of three-point-eight (b) billion dollars to deal with the crisis of unaccompanied teens at the border with Mexico. But Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt says the President’s lax enforcement of border control has indirectly created this crisis.
           Hurt says the President’s Executive Order two years ago, preventing automatic deportation for unaccompanied minors who enter the US illegally, has created the crisis.
          Obama will discuss the crisis with faith and local leaders during a fundraising trip to Texas today.
          Obama has been facing pressure to visit the border while he's in Texas to raise money for Democratic congressional candidates. The White House has resisted the calls -- largely from Republicans -- to take a firsthand look at the tens of thousands of children arriving from Central America. Among those calling for Obama to visit the border is Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry. He's been invited to today's meeting in Dallas.

Rock. Co. authorities charge three in homicide:
(Eden, N.C.) -- Rockingham County investigators have charged three people in the murder of an Eden man whose body was found in a car New Year’s Day.
          It was around Noon that day when Deputies went to Lakewood Road in Eden to investigate a suspicious vehicle that appeared to have a body inside. They found a 2002 Gray Lincoln four door sedan. Inside, they found the body of 43-year old Henry Earl Watson.
          Investigators say Watson’s vehicle was reported stolen the day before, but there was no evidence to support the claim.
          Travon Taylor and Larry Alexander Settle are charged with second-degree murder and concealment of a death. Taylor is already in jail for another conviction. Settle was arrested yesterday morning. 
          A third man, Gerald Sincere Uniqu Graves, has not been arrested.  He faces the charge of being an accessory after the fact.
          Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call the sheriff’s office at 336-634-3232.

Danville accountant drowns in South Carolina:
(Pawleys Island, S.C.) -- A Danville accountant drowned while on a one-day trip to Pawleys Island, South Carolina. 68-year-old Robert Jennings died Monday afternoon after he was pulled from the ocean in Pawleys Island.
      Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson says Jennings was found unresponsive in the water and had been pulled from the ocean by bystanders. Johnson says bystanders performed CPR on Jennings until medics arrived on the scene.
     Witnesses said Jennings appeared to be in distress and could not be revived.
     Midway Fire and Rescue were called to the scene around 3:30 pm and transported Jennings to Waccamaw Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
     Johnson says an autopsy will be performed Tuesday to determine an exact cause of death.
      Family members say Jennings was a strong swimmer and was visiting South Carolina with a friend.
     The funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday from Fairview United Methodist Church in Danville.

Averett and DCC announce joint education agreement:
(Danville, Va.) -- Averett University and Danville Community College have signed an agreement that will allow DCC students to take one course a semester at Averett. The bonus to the agreement is that students will be paying tuition at DCC rates.
    Averett’s vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Janet Laughlin, said the pact is going to make a difference for area students who want a college education but can’t afford the cost. Now, thanks to this agreement, DCC students will be able to take up to four classes at Averett at DCC's tuition rate.
      DCC's Vice President of Academic and Student Services Dr. Chris Ezell called this “an outstanding opportunity for Danville Community College students to continue their academic careers at Averett because Averett is the main transfer institution for DCC graduates."
    Under the agreement, students may take one course at Averett a semester, after completing one semester at DCC. This will allow students to save money and take courses that may not be available at DCC, ensuring that once they transfer to Averett they can complete the degree as seamlessly as possible.
      Students who enroll as part of the joint enrollment program must be in good academic standing at DCC. In addition, students must earn a C or better in each Averett course to continue as a joint enrollment student.
     Upon completion of the requirements in the joint enrollment agreement, students will be able to transfer to Averett and complete their bachelor's degree in the undergraduate program.

Danville Police at the scene of an early-morning shooting on Stuart Street
(Leonard Harville photo)

Shooting victim now in stable condition:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville police say a shooting victim is off the critical list and is now in stable condition.
     The 30-year-old was shot multiple times in an incident that happened in the 200 block of Stuart Street just before 2:00 Monday morning. According to investigators, the victim ran from the scene and was found at a home on the lower end of Montague Street, less than a block away
     Police said at the time that the man suffered “life-threatening injuries,” but did not release his name. At last report, he was still undergoing treatment at Danville Regional Medical center.
    Authorities are continuing their investigation.           

N.C. Senate takes up Coal Ash bill...again:
(Raleigh, N.C.) -- The coal-ash bill that sped through the North Carolina House in three days last week now goes before the Senate.
          The House gave final approval to the measure Thursday on a 93-16 vote. The Senate unanimously passed its bill June 25.
          Both set Duke Energy on a path toward closing its 33 North Carolina ash ponds by 2029. Neither resolves whether customers will pay for it.
          The Senate might resist at least a couple of House changes. After Duke’s complaints that 15 years is too little time to close its ponds, the House allowed some extensions.
          Duke has removed 258 tons of coal ash and sediment in the Dan River, about two miles downstream of the Feb. 2 ash spill in Eden. The material was taken to a landfill in Person County. The dredging continues in Danville where crews have removed more than 2,000 tons of ash and sediment since early May. That work is expected to end this month.
          The Senate is expected to re-adopt it’s version. From there, a conference committee will meet to sort out differences in their versions.

Pitt. Co. leaders pledge conditional support to DRBDC:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County leaders want to help a local business incubator make some much-needed repairs. But they want others to help out, too!
          The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to send 25-thousand dollars to the Dan River Business Development Center in Kentuck.  But the Register and Bee reports the money is contingent upon the city of Danville and a third foundation also offering 25-thousand dollars.
          The center plans to convert some offices into lab space.  They also want to replace the heating and air-conditioning system, paint the inside and outside of the building, upgrade restrooms and break rooms and replace computers and other information technology work.
          Those improvements are expected to cost around $200,000 over the next five years.  The center was built in 2001. The have an annual economic impact of $15 million and more than 2,000 jobs have been created by businesses that have been housed there.

Eight die on Virginia roads during holiday weekend:
(Richmond, Va.) -- Virginia recorded eight fatal highway crashes over the July 4th holiday, up from the seven recorded during last year.
     The Virginia State Police said Monday that four of the eight fatalities involved motorcycle crashes. Two of the victims who died were operating all-terrain vehicles and alcohol was a factor in at least one of the fatalities.
     The statistical counting period was from Friday through midnight Sunday. Troopers responded to a total of 566 traffic crashes statewide.  
     The holiday weekend also meant stepped up patrols.  
     Called Operation CARE, the patrols resulted in citations for more than 11,710 speeders and more than 2,670 reckless drivers. State police also cited 77 impaired drivers and more than 1,170 people for failing to buckle up themselves or their children.

Va. Tech student dies in Halifax Co. accident:
(Halifax County, N.C.) -- A Virginia Tech student died in a freak accident in Halifax County.
      Sheriff Wes Tripp says Alexander Hable died Friday as he tried to use a rope to swing into a lake. He struck a rock and was killed.
      According to Virginia Tech's school newspaper, Hable died Friday in the incident at Lake Gaston.
     Hable was a junior management major and was on the men's lacrosse team. The newspaper also reports Hable, of Midlothian, was found dead on a rock.
     The Halifax County Sheriff’s department is investigating.


Items recovered in a Caswell County drug bust

Caswell Co. man faces multiple drug charges:
(Blanch, N.C.) -- A 41-year old Caswell County man is facing five felony drug counts.  Captain Frank Rose says they got a warrant to search 41-year old Bobby Lee Reaves’ home on Route 62 in Blanch after an undercover probe.  Deputies found 21 marijuana plants, with an estimated street value of more than 31-thousand dollars.  They also reportedly found growing material, digital scales, drug paraphernalia and a 22 caliber rifle.  Reaves (pictured, left) is being held under 10-thousand dollars bond in the Caswell County Detention Facility.  He’s set to be arraigned on Wednesday.

Danville School Board reeady to regroup and reorganize:
(Danville, Va.) -- A week after accepting the resignation of their Superintendent, the Danville School Board will meet tonight to reorganize.
          Last Monday, the panel voted four-to-three to accept Doctor Ed Newsome’s resignation after just a year on the job.  Newsome cited “personal and family reasons” for his early departure.  The buyout includes a 160-thousand dollar payment.
          Assistant Superintendent Doctor Kathy Osbourn will act as Interim Superintendent until a replacement is named.  She’ll preside over tonight’s reorganizational meeting.
          The School Board will pick a Chair and Vice-Chair.  They’ll also welcome two new members to the panel.  Stephen Gould and Sharon Dones were the winners in this year’s School Board election; along with incumbent Phillip Campbell.

Martinsville teen drowns:
(Stuart, Va.) -- A weekend tragedy at an area lake claimed the life of a three-sport star at Martinsville High School.
          18-year old Kerion Witcher drowned Friday afternoon at Fairy Stone state park.  He was last seen swimming toward the diving platform at the park when he went under. Witnesses say there were no signs of distress. When they noticed Witcher did not immediately re-surface, they and lifeguards began to search for him---one of the swimmers found him submerged in about 15 feet of water.           Lifeguards pulled Witcher from the water and began to administer CPR.  Witcher was pronounced dead at Pioneer Hospital in Stuart a short time later.
          Witcher was a three-sport athlete at Martinsville High School, playing football in the fall, wrestling in the winter and baseball in the spring.  He was ready to enter the Army in September.

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