06:56am, 04/20/14
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Saturday, April 19, 2014
Updated 4/19/14 @ 9:30 am

NC State study: Dan River water safe for farm use:
(Raleigh, N.C.) (AP) -- North Carolina State University scientists say farmers along the Dan River can use surface water for crops and livestock despite a massive release of toxic coal ash more than two months ago.
      A report by three university researchers says lead, arsenic, copper and other contaminates have settled to the river bottom. The report says none of the hundreds of water samples tested exceeded guidelines for cattle.
      The sludge spilled into the Dan River comes from byproducts of burning coal at a Duke Energy power plant. Company spokesman Jeff Brooks said Friday the company did not pay the N.C. State scientists for their research.
      The nation's largest electric company has spent $15 million so far cleaning up the Feb. 2 spill that polluted 70 miles of the Dan River.

Rescuers work an accident on Aiken St. Thursday night.
(Leonard Harville photo)


Danville man charged in crash:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police say alcohol was a factor in a single-vehicle crash last night in the 300 block of Aiken Street. 
          It happened at around 9:00 PM. Police say a 2009 Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on Central Boulevard.  The driver lost control.  The car jumped a guardrail and came to rest on Aiken Street.  29-year old Kendal Jones was ejected. 
          He was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center---and later flown to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem for further treatment.
          Police are charging Jones with Driving while intoxicated. The Chevrolet suffered about $15,000 in damages.

Duke says coal ash clean-up will not cost shareholders:
(Charlotte, N.C.) (AP) -- Duke Energy told shareholders Thursday that cleanup costs resulting from its massive coal ash spill into the Dan River won't have a big effect on their $50 billion company's bottom line.
     The nation's largest utility reports they’ve spent $15 million so far plugging the collapsed pipe at its Eden power plant that triggered a Feb. 2 spill and polluted 70 miles of the Dan River.
     Duke said it can't yet assess what costs may result from new laws affecting how the company handles the ash at its 33 coal ash dumps in North Carolina, or from future legal claims, litigation or environmental fines.
     Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas seeking records and grand jury testimony as part of a criminal investigation into the state's oversight of Duke's coal ash dumps.

The Launch Place announces new seed grant:
(Danville, Va.) -- A local group will invest $250,000 to help another high-tech company come to Danville’s River District.
     The Launch Place says the seed money for Raleigh-based SEAL Innovation will allow the company to commercialize their SwimSafe line.  Their wearable swim bands and state-of-the-art detection technology aims to improve swimmer safety by alerting guardians of any problems.
     SEAL Innovation will move into the River District---there’s no word on how many jobs they people they plan to hire.
The Launch Place on formed after getting a $10 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation.  Their goal is to recruit, develop and retain entrepreneurs.
     In January, they announced a $250,000 investment bringing KSI Data Sciences to the River District.  In February, another quarter (m) million-dollar grant was used to bring CirrusWorks to the River District.

Competency questions to be re-evaluated in Terry case:
(Halifax, Va.) -- A court-approved psychiatrist last year said James Lloyd Terry was incompetent to stand trial for capital murder.  Now, Halifax County Circuit Court Judge Joel Cunningham will set a hearing to hear from doctors who’ve been treating Terry the past several months.
          In a motions hearing this week, attorneys said evaluators at Central State Hospital are reporting Terry is now competent to stand trial.  The 42-year old Terry is facing seven charges in connection with the April 2011 death of 84-year-old Charlotte Rice.  Her body was found in her North Main Street home in South Boston after police got a report of a breaking and entering.  They arrested Terry after a brief chase through neighbor’s yards. 
          Attorneys from Danville and Pittsylvania County are serving as special prosecutors in the case.  Right now, Terry’s trial is set to begin in September.  Attorneys say it could take up to a month.

ANB reports first-quarter profit:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville-based American National Bankshares netted nearly three-and-a-half (m) million dollars in the first quarter of 2014---down from last year’s profit of over four-point-one (m) million.  That’s down 17-percent.  CEO Jeff Haley says a large decrease in mortgage income played into the numbers.  That income fell $455,000 ---more than 63-percent from last year. Trust income was up 90-percent.  Total deposits are up slightly from a year ago.

Ridgeway woman killed in Henry Co. accident:
(Henry County, Va.) -- State Police are continuing their investigation into a fatal crash that killed a Ridgeway resident. The accident happened just before 6 p.m. Wednesday on Route 642, eight tenths mile east of Route 976 in Henry County.
       The preliminary investigation indicates a 1995 Toyota Camry that was being operated by 51 year old Rhonda Spencer Ray of Ridgeway was traveling on Route 642 when her vehicle ran off the right side of the roadway, overcorrected causing her vehicle to cross the center line and strike a 2011 Subaru Outback on the driver side. 
      Ray was not wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Thai restaurant coming to North Main Hill:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Thai restaurant is coming to Danville.
     Renovations are underway for Moon River Thai, which is locating adjacent to the North Theater on North Main Street. The restaurant expects to be operating within six weeks.
      The owners have operated four award-winning Thai restaurants and will partner with the North Theater to create special events.
     Customers will be entertained by Thai and jazz music, plus Hollywood soundtracks and standards.
      Moon River Thai will be open daily, with catering services for special events and business meetings.

God's Pit Crew needs bottled water:
(Danville, Va.) -- God’s Pit Crew has exhausted its stockpile of bottled water and hopes to replenish supplies this week at Danville Toyota.
     Crew Chief Randy Johnson says one of their trucks will be at the dealership through Saturday to receive donations. 
      Johnson says the shortage follows their response to a recent disaster in West Virginia. Eight counties near Charleston were affected by a massive chemical spill, which left the water unsafe for drinking.
    God’s Pit Crew sent 170,000 bottles to the area and that exhausted supplies in their local warehouse.
    Danville Toyota stepped up to the plate and volunteers will be at the dealership all week, collecting bottled water in one of the Crew’s trucks. Nascar driver Peyton Sellers (pictured, left) will be on hand Friday to help with the collection and to sign autographs.
    Johnson says -- with tornado season approaching -- it’s important to have a supply of bottled water on hand.

Va. Tech pays fines related to '07 shootings:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Virginia Tech has paid federal fines for its actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, when a lone gunman killed 32 people on the school's campus.
     The U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday the university has paid two fines totaling $32,500 for violations of the Clery Act, which requires universities to issue timely warnings of campus threats.
     Student gunman Seung-Hui Cho (sung-wee joh) shot two at a dorm on the Blacksburg campus hours before his rampage at a classroom building. University officials have defended their decision to not alert the campus of the first shootings because police said that they were domestic in nature and that the broader campus was not at risk.

Danville School budget debate underway:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council and the school board will hold a joint meeting next week to continue budget talks. The talks began Tuesday night when school leaders presented their annual request for local funding. 
     School Board Chairman Ed Polamus says the board is asking for the same amount of money from Council as last year, roughly $17.4 million. That will help fund a 2% employee pay raise. He says the budget eliminates about 20 positions, primarily through attrition.
     It wasn’t the amount of local money requested that drew the attention of Councilman Adam Tomer, it was how the money is to be spent.  Specifically, he questioned a $700,000 contingency fund that’s built in to the school budget. Tomer also objected to what he called a sharp increase in administrative spending and a much smaller increase in classroom spending.
     Polhamus says those numbers will likely be much closer when the school board presents its final budget draft to council next Wednesday.

Citations going out to those without approved trash containers:
(Danville, Va.) -- The grace period for picking up garbage that is not in one of those new rolling containers has ended.
     Danville Public Works Director Rick Drazenovich says customers were required to purchase the approved containers by January first, but his department has been giving homeowners and tenants additional time to make the purchases.
     That grace period ended this month and refuse workers are now placing notices on the older, non-approved cans. Drazenovich says the code enforcement department will issue a notice of non-compliance and and then issue a citation. The trash will still be collected after three days, but the customer will be charged a $100 administrative fee for the special collection. 
     Drazenovich estimates that about 93% of Danville households are in compliance, with more purchasing the approved containers daily.
      If you haven’t bought one of the rolling carts, Public Works still has a few hundred for sale and another shipment is expected in early May.
        If Public Works runs out of the containers, a waiver will be applied, if the customer tries to buy a cart and they’re temporarily out-of-stock.

Supervisors to name new administrator next week:
(Chatham, Va.) -- The search for a new Pittsylvania County Administrator has  ended.
    The Pittsylvania Board of Supervisors has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, April 22, to name a new county administrator.
      The public meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the county administration building on Center Street in Chatham.
     The person chosen has not been identified, but is from Virginia and is familiar with Southside Virginia.
     The search for a new administrator began last September, when Dan Sleeper retired from the position.

Obama commutes Danville drug sentence made longer by typo:
(Washington, D.C.) -- President Barack Obama has commuted a Danville drug sentence made longer by a typo.
     In 2006, Caesar Cantu of Katy, Texas pleaded guilty in federal court in Danville to trafficking marijuana and money laundering.
     He’s currently serving 15 years for the offenses. But Judge Jackson Kiser based his term on a mistake in a pre-sentence report that resulted in 3 ½ years being tacked on to his term.        
     Last year, Kiser dismissed Cantu's request to reduce his time because it wasn't filed within the one-year statute of limitations and his lawyer didn't object at his sentencing in 2006. And since his lawyer didn’t object, the judge said the court couldn’t change it.
     The White House said the situation could only be rectified by the president. Cantu will now serve 11 ½ years.
      Judge Kiser noted at sentencing that although Cantu didn't have a criminal record, the quantity of drugs involved in his case - 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana - required that he be sentenced within the recommended guidelines. But a typo occurred in the “offense level,” giving Cantu 3 ½ years’ extra time to serve. 

5 accused in NC abduction denied bond:
(Atlanta, Ga.) (AP) -- Five people accused in the abduction of a North Carolina prosecutor's father last week have been denied bond during a federal court hearing in Atlanta.  
     Frank Arthur Janssen was taken from his home in Wake Forest, N.C., on April 5 and was rescued five days later when FBI agents raided an Atlanta apartment.
     Charged with kidnapping were: 21-year-old Jenna Paulin Martin; 30-year-old Tiana Maynard; 20-year-old Jevante "Flame" Price; 21-year-old Michael "Hot" Montreal Gooden; and 29-year-old Clifton James Roberts.   
     Officials say they're all from the metro Atlanta area.  
     Authorities have said the abduction was an act of retaliation related to Janssen's daughter's prosecution of North Carolina inmate Kelvin Melton.  
     He has also been charged in the kidnapping. Authorities have described Melton as a high-ranking member of the Bloods street gang.

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