06:13am, 05/22/15
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Local News

 Thursday, May 21, 2015
Updated 5/21/15 @ 6:30 pm

Fire at Blue Ridge Fiberboard:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Fire Department responded to a structure fire at 250 Celotex Drive at the Blue Ridge Fiberboard plant at 2:34 Thursday afternoon. Crews arrived within minutes and found heavy smoke and fire coming from the asphalt boiler room building. Plant personnel were already fighting the fire and a crew from the Lynn Street fire station pulled an attack line and quickly knocked down the flames from outside the structure. The building and contents sustained heavy fire damage.
     The Danville Fire Department responded with 3 engines, a ladder truck, two command units, a safety officer and one fire marshal. The Danville Life Saving Crew and Danville Police Department assisted on scene.
      Nineteen fire personnel were on the scene for two hours and 14 minutes.
      No injuries were reported.

Tobacco Commission awards grants for local research projects:
(Danville, Va.) -- Two projects on the Southside are receiving nearly $3 million in grant money from Virginia’s Tobacco Commission.      
     Del. Danny Marshall serves on the commission and says IRFlex -- which received a $2 million Research and Development grant in 2010 -- is getting another $1.5 million for its work at the Dan River Business Development Center. The company has installed a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Danville, to produce and market fiber-optic devices designed to protect aircraft from shoulder-fired missile attacks.      
     The second grant totals $1.2 million and was awarded to a company called Synergy, which plans to use its Polymer Processing Lab to manufacture biodegradable plastic food containers to replace metal cans and glass jars at a cheaper cost.      
     Synergy’s research will be done at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville. 

Help Wanted scams increase:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Police Department is warning citizens in the Dan River Region to be aware of a recent increase in Help Wanted – Employment scams. Some area residents have reported contact with fraudulent employment offers after responding to ads in local publications, or from on-line sources. These offers are usually for sales or marketing positions and after a flurry of emails, texts or letters, usually end in one of several ways. The unsuspecting victim may be asked to send money to “process their application,” bank information may be requested to “verify credit,” or the victim may receive a check to deposit that includes a list of instructions on what to do with the funds.
     In the event you are contacted after answering an advertisement and you feel there are concerns, take the time to VERIFY the potential employer and their status with the Better Business Bureau of their locality. The local Economic Development Office or Chamber of Commerce can sometimes provide information on businesses in their areas.

Civil suit filed following sexual assault in ambulance:
(Chatham, Va.) -- A former rescue worker convicted by a Pittsylvania County jury on sexual assault counts earlier this year is now the subject of a 3-and-a-half (m) million dollar civil suit.
     60-year old Keith Dean of Altavista sexually assaulted a female patient in an ambulance en route from Gretna to Lynchburg General Hospital last summer.
Dean was an employee of Regional One, based in Danville.  A jury recommended life-plus-20 years in prison.
     The 22-year old victim from Gretna has filed suit against Dean and Regional One.  She claims the company failed to check Dean’s background, which included other sexual assault allegations.

No cause yet in fatal fire:
(Hurt, Va.) -- A fire just outside the town of Hurt claimed the lives of an elderly couple Wednesday morning.
     A passerby spotted flames coming from 10596 Blue Ridge Drive at 12:43 a.m. and called 911. Units from Hurt, Renan and Gretna responded. Firefighters arrived to find the home engulfed in flames and the roof collapsing. After getting the blaze under control, an interior search was made and two bodies were recovered. Both have been taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke for positive identification and to determine the exact cause of death.
     At this point, the fire’s cause is unknown. Only the brick walls of the house were left standing.  
     Investigators from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Department and the Fire Marshall’s staff remain on scene collecting information and speaking to any witnesses. A Special Agent from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted at the scene.

Council approves money for stadium feasibility study:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council has signed off on a plan to study whether it would be better to renovate JT Christopher Stadium, or replace it.
            Council will spend 150-thousand dollars for a feasibility study to answer that question.  Another option could be to build a new stadium elsewhere.  It would be a multi-purpose facility, hosting football, soccer, track and other sports.  It could also be used for public events.
            Once the study is done, Council could approve up to one-and-a-half (m) million dollars in Capital Funds as “seed money.” That would be combined with private donations and/or grant funding.

Two measures from Rep. Hurt clear House Committee:
(Washington, D.C.) -- The House Financial Services Committee approved two measures yesterday from Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt.
     The Small Company Disclosure Simplification Act, and the Streamlining Excessive and Costly Regulations Review Act will now go to the House floor. Hurt says regulations from the Securities and Exchange Commission directly affect the success of Main Street businesses.  He calls his measure a commonsense solution that will ease the regulatory burden for smaller public companies and require the SEC to perform a cost-benefit analysis on the regulations’ impact on these companies. 
     The other measure requires the SEC to review its regulations every ten years – a process that other financial regulatory bodies already perform – to streamline their rules and ensure they are all up-to-date.

Museum rejects sign offer from HPA:   
(Danville, Va.) --
The Heritage Preservation Association is offering to replace a sign that adorned the Sutherlin Mansion for sixty years.  But the local museum is declining the offer.
     The sign identified the building as a “Confederate Memorial.”  It was taken down in the mid-seventies and was never replaced.  In 1983, the city leased the building over to the Museum of Fine Arts and History.  Museum Board Member Jane Murray addressed City Council last night.  She thanked the HPA for the offer, but said the sign would not be in keeping with their efforts to try and keep the building and grounds as close to it's original condition during the Civil War.
     HPA President Wayne Byrd says the sign would recognize the historic significance of the Sutherlin Mansion.  The HPA also owns the Confederate Flag that flies in the mansion’s front yard.  Last fall, the Museum asked Council to remove the flag…but the city attorney ruled that would be a violation of the 1994 agreement that placed the flag on an obelisk.
     City Council was set to debate the idea last night in a Work Session.

Environmental groups slam proposed Duke Energy settlement:
(Richmond, Va.) – Yesterday wa
s the deadline for the public to comment on Virginia's proposed settlement with Duke Energy over the coal ash spill.
       Environmental groups are already calling the two-and-a-half (m) million-dollar fine “grossly inadequate.”  They’re suggesting the state levy a fifty-(m) million-dollar fine against the utility.
       The Roanoke River Basin Association and other groups say the long-term impacts of the spill are still a mystery, and two-and-a-half million dollars may not be nearly enough to compensate localities in Virginia who suffered in the spill.
       Danville had the biggest impacts from the spill last February.  It dumped 39-thousand tons of ash into the River from a retired coal-fired power station in Eden.
       Last week, Duke agreed to a 102 (m) million dollar fine for federal Clean Water violations.

More charges filed in double shooting:
(Caswell County, N.C.) -- Caswell County authorities have charged 18-year-old Lavonte Anthony Blackstock of Eden in connection with the May 7 shooting of William Kivett on the Cherry Grove Road. Blackstock is charged as an accessory after the fact to attempted first-degree murder. He’s being held without bond in the Caswell County Jail and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on May 27. 
    Caswell County earlier charged 44-year-old Linda Sue Pegram with attempted murder after they say she shot her father two times within nine hours.
      Pegram also suffered gunshot wounds and was found on a road in Rockingham County. Paramedics took her to a hospital, where she was treated and then taken into custody.  
      The Caswell County Sheriff's Office said deputies responding to a report of a shooting found 67-year-old William Kivett suffering from a gunshot wound to his head. He was treated and released at a local hospital.
      The following morning, deputies responding to another call found Kivett with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. This time he was taken to a Greensboro hospital.
     The investigation into the second shooting continues. Additional charges are expected to be filed against Blackstock and Pegram in connection with the first shooting.

Danville doctor praises trooper’s response:
(Rocky Mount, Va.) -- A worried Danville mother’s Facebook post praising a Virginia State trooper who helped her son in the dead of the night has gone viral.
     Dr. Nada Owusu asked her Facebook friends to join her in “expressing my gratitude to God and to Officer Matt Okes” over the way he took care of her stranded son. When Joseph Owusu’s car got a flat tire while the Virginia Tech student was returning home from school last week, Trooper Oakes spent hours by the roadside with the 20-year-old student to make certain he was safe on the dark and busy road.   
     In a caption accompanying a photo of the trooper and her son taken at two in the morning, Dr, Owusu says: “My son had his back tire blown off his car last night on his way home from school. This kind officer approached him, didn’t ask if the little Mercedes was stolen, but rather got on his knees to replace his tire.”
     After determining the flat couldn't be fixed, Trooper Okes stayed with her son, even after AAA arrived.

Bridge repairs scheduled:
(Danville, Va.) -- Repairs to a Danville bridge that was damaged in a February accident will begin Wednesday.
      Burleigh Construction Co. of Concord, N.C. will repair the bridge at the interchange of Riverside Drive and Piedmont Drive. Motorists traveling Piedmont Drive and westbound on Riverside Drive can expect lane restrictions over the next three weeks.
       The repairs include replacement of the bridge rail and patching the concrete surface. The work crew will set up its equipment Wednesday, closing the outside lane of westbound Riverside Drive from Park Avenue to the bridge. Construction will begin on Thursday.
      The exit and entrance ramps at the bridge will remain open during both setup and construction.
       Travel on Piedmont Drive will not be restricted as the crew sets up, but during construction, alternating lanes of northbound and southbound Piedmont Drive will be closed as a safety precaution.
      The bridge sustained heavy damage on Feb. 13 when a car struck the railing, sending concrete debris onto Piedmont Drive. A public works crew removed the 50-foot damaged section and placed temporary concrete barriers along the bridge rail.
      The repairs will cost just under $107,000.

Danville woman wins $100,000 in instant scratch game:
(Danville, Va.) – Marian Cothen is $100,000 richer.
     The Danville woman says every Saturday she buys one $5 Virginia Lottery ticket and scratches it. This time it paid off, with Cothen winning the $100,000 top prize in the Virginia Lottery’s Jewel 7’s game. She purchased the scratcher ticket at Murphy USA on the Mount Cross Road.
     Cothen says she was in disbelief until she showed the ticket to a coworker, who confirmed her good fortune.
     She plans to use her winnings to pay bills and do some home repairs.

Photo studio to relocate to the River District:
(Danville, Va.) – An established local business is relocating to the River District.
     Bobby Carlsen Photography will move to the Atrium Building on lower Main Street, above Chestnut Place and Vintages by the Dan. The new 3,500 square-foot, multi-level studio has a Main Street entrance and will include a reception area, galleries, a traditional strobe-light photography room, offices, a cathedral skylight atrium, and a large floor-to-ceiling natural light photography room on the building’s third floor.
     Carlsen is an award-winning photographer who has worked extensively in Southside Virginia over the past decade. He is also an educator and popular speaker.
       Plans call for the studio to open this summer.

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Carol Metz

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