01:59pm, 10/24/14
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Friday, October 24, 2014
Updated 10/24/14 @ 1:25pm

Crash claims the life of slain sheriff's deputy's son:
(Pittsylvania County, Va.) -- Virginia State Police are investigating another traffic fatality that happened early Friday morning on the Pine Lake Road.
      Sgt. Bob Carpentieri says the single-vehicle accident happened shortly before 2 am and claimed the life of a Danville man.
      The preliminary investigation indicates a 2008 Honda Civic operated by 24-year-old Frankie Lynn Betterton II ran off the right side of the roadway and struck a tree. Betterton was wearing a safety belt at the time of the crash but was pronounced dead at the scene.
      The victim was the son of slain Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Deputy Frankie Lynn Betterton Jr., who was killed during a traffic stop on U.S 58 on May 17, 2002.
       The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Department and the Danville Lifesaving crew also responded to the accident, which left four passengers injured. Two were transported to Danville Regional Medical Center and the other two were flown from the scene by helicopter to Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Their names, ages and conditions were not available.
      Sheriff’s deputies directed traffic around the accident scene.
      Carpentieri says Virginia State Police are continuing their investigation.  


Ringgold woman killed in four-car collision:
(Blairs, Va.) -- A four-car collision in Blairs claimed the life of a Ringgold woman.
      Virginia State Police say 57-year-old Evelyn Hawkins Bryant died at the scene of the crash, which happened about 5:30 Thursday afternoon in front of the Computer Barn on Highway 29, North.
      According to the investigating trooper, a 16-year-old Danville resident was southbound when his 1999 Ford Explorer crossed over into the northbound lanes near Railroad Lane in Pittsylvania County. He struck a 2003 Cadillac sedan and a 2002 Toyota Sienna van, before hitting a 2005 Toyota Camry head on. Bryant was driving the Camry and died at the scene.
     The teen was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center for treatment.
      37-year-old Nicole Gibson of Blairs and Breesha Jones, 22, of Blairs were both taken to the emergency room, where they were treated for minor injuries.
     All four drivers were wearing seat belts.
        The 16-year-old driver was charged with failure to maintain proper control of his vehicle.
        The crash had traffic backed up for several hours as Virginia State Police conducted their investigation. (Photos: Leonard Harville)

Former first lady faces February sentencing:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell's sentencing on nine public corruption convictions has been set for Feb. 20.
      McDonnell had originally been scheduled for sentencing Jan. 6, but she asked for a postponement because one of her attorneys has a scheduling conflict that day.
      U.S. District Judge James Spencer approved her motion last week and set the new sentencing date Thursday.
     Former Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife were convicted in September of performing "official acts" to promote former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams' dietary supplement products in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts, trips and loans.
     Bob McDonnell was convicted on 11 public corruption counts. His sentencing remains set for Jan. 6.
     Va. governor's ethics commission to meet Monday

Appalachian offers energy efficiency savings:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — Appalachian Power is proposing ways for its Virginia customers to reduce energy usage and demand.
     The utility on Friday filed a request with the State Corporation Commission seeking approval for four residential programs and two for commercial and industrial customers.
      The residential programs would provide home assessments and incentives for long-term energy reduction; provide free pickup and cash incentives for removing second refrigerators or freezers from the power grid; give incentives if new manufactured housing is built to efficiency standards; and offer retail rebates and markdowns for high-efficiency lighting and appliances.
     A financial incentive for commercial and industrial users would tie to specific results from installing high-efficiency lighting and heating and cooling equipment. Another would provide rebates for certain larger energy conservation projects.
     Appalachian Power has about 500,000 Virginia customers.

Fairfax gets warrant for UVa abduction suspect:
(Fairfax, Va.) (AP) — A judge in Fairfax County has issued a bench warrant to bring the man accused of abducting a missing University of Virginia student to Fairfax to face charges in a separate crime.
     Fairfax County prosecutors sought and received the bench warrant Thursday for Jesse Matthew. He's charged with attempted capital murder and other charges in a 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax City.
     Matthew is currently being held in the Charlottesville area on charges of kidnapping University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Officers searching for Graham found human remains on Saturday. The remains have not yet been identified.
     It's not clear when Matthew will make an initial appearance in Fairfax. Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh has indicated he will cooperate with prosecutors in the Graham case.

Danville City Council will not remove Confederate flag:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Manager Joe King said Wednesday that City Council does not have the authority to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Sutherlin mansion.
     According to a news release, City Council will consider a resolution at its November 6, 2014 meeting "stating that it has determined that under Virginia law, the City does not have the legal authority to remove the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History."
     On September 30, King received a letter from Cara Burton, Executive Director of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, conveying her board of directors’ request that the city remove the Confederate flag.
      The November 6th resolution directs the city manager to notify the museum board of directors that it cannot consider its request, because "The veterans memorial (which consists of the granite base, pole and flag) is protected under the State Code of Virginia, and cannot be altered in any way."

Council hears more on Confederate flag:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council met in a closed session Tuesday night to discuss a request to remove a Confederate flag from the lawn of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History.
      Dozens of people from various heritage groups all over Virginia gathered to show their support for keeping the flag where it is.
      City Council heard from around a dozen speakers, most of whom opposed the request from the Museum of Fine Arts and History to remove the flag from their front lawn.
      Ed Clark with the local chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans says it’s part of Danville’s history and identity.
      But Danville resident Katrina Carter says the flag is a reminder of slavery and best left to the history books.
      A 1994 agreement between the city and the Heritage Preservation Association allowed the HPA to give the city an obelisk placed on the front lawn of the Sutherlin Mansion.           
      The museum wants to move the flag inside as part of a Confederate history exhibit.
Puppy left in dumpster; reward offered by Humane Society:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Area Humane Society is seeking information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who abandoned a terrier puppy in a dumpster at Woodside Village Apartments on Piney Forest Road.  A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered. 
     Late Tuesday afternoon, the police department received a complaint about a puppy that was in a crate in the dumpster. Officers responded and took the puppy to the animal shelter.
     The puppy is a female terrier mix puppy, about three months old. She will be held the legally-required stray time and then be placed for adoption.
      Paulette Dean, executive director, said, “Our first choice is to find a home for this little sweetheart in the Danville area. However, if we cannot, we are confident that she will be transferred to one of our adoption partners.”
      Abandonment of any animal is illegal, and it is also cruel. Dean said, “A puppy in a crate in a dumpster has no hope of survival without human intervention. We are grateful that a concerned citizen heard her whines and called the police.”
     Anyone with information about this puppy is urged to call 799-5306. Calls will be confidential.

City leaders want "Danville-Specific" coal ash solutions:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville leaders want Danville-specific solutions as Duke Energy continues their cleanup from the massive Coal Ash Spill in Februrary.  Duke President Davis Montgomery gave City Council an update this week.  Mayor Sherman Saunders says the city has been harmed more by perception than pollution.  Montgomery says Duke has pledged $500,000 to improve boating and fishing facilities, new walkways, parking, and other things at Abreu-Grogan Park.  They used the park as a staging area this summer to clean up coal ash that had accumulated at the base of the Schoolfield Dam.  They’ve also formed a community stakeholder group to give people a voice in future projects.  Overall, Duke Energy is pledging ten (m) million dollars on clean-up and improvement projects at waterways in five states.

Tractor-trailor wreck stops traffic on 220:
(Henry County, Va.) -- Virginia State Police say charges have been filed following an early morning crash involving a FedEx tractor-trailer.
      Sgt. Bob Carpentieri says the accident happened just before 6:00 am on Route 220 northbound, one half mile north of Route 688 in Henry County.
       According to the state trooper who investigated, the driver of the 18-wheeler ran off the left side of the road and overturned, blocking all lanes of Route 220.
     The driver, 43-year-old Carlos A. Cristancho of Ridgefield, New Jersey, was transported to Martinsville-Henry Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries. Cristancho was charged with fail to maintain proper control. 

Council plans to return grant money to Tobacco Commission:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council voted Tuesday to repay $2 million in tobacco commission grants given to Web Parts and GOK International.
     It’s the same plan the Commission approved earlier this year to repay a U.S. Green Energy grant. 
     The city will pay 25 percent up front with an additional 25 percent each year for the next three years without interest.
     That means the city has to pay $500,000 for the next four years to cover the two grants.
     GOK International was supposed to have hired 300 people and make investments of $12.5 million; Web Parts said it was going to hire 260 people and invest $10 million. Both fell well short of their goals.
     The city filed lawsuits against Web Parts and GOK International last month. But the city is still responsible for reimbursing the Commission.

Department of Health establishes Ebola Hotline:
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Department of Health is helping answer questions from the public and provide the most up-to-date information regarding Ebola to Virginians.
     The agency says it has set up a hotline that's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline can be reached at 877-275-8343.
Officials say Virginia's 211 Call Center will be handling these calls using frequently asked questions developed by the department.
     State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine says Virginians are understandably concerned about their risk of catching Ebola and the agency is responding through multiple channels.
     Updates and answers to frequently asked questions are also being shared daily via the agency's website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

American National earnings drop:
(Danville, Va.) -- American National Bank netted $3.2 million dollars in the just-completed quarter. That’s down about 21% from last year’s third quarter earnings.
     That gives the bank a net income of nearly $10 million for the first nine months of the year, compared to around $12 million last year.
     Bank President and CEO Jeff Haley says they’re pleased with the numbers. He also says the bank's portfolio growth is leading to growth in other areas. He thinks that growth will continue with the recent acquisition of Franklin Community Bank of Rocky Mount.
    American National lists assets of around $1.3 billion. They have 25 banking offices and two loan offices in Virginia and North Carolina.

Traffic accident causes backlog on Rt. 41:
(Danville, Va.) -- Police directed traffic around an accident on Route 41 year Reuben’s Too Restaurant following an accident Tuesday morning.
          Witnesses say a Toyota Highlander crashed and came to rest on its top in the southbound lane of traffic after it was struck by a vehicle pulling out of the Restaurant.
          According to reports, Michael Lee Hoskins, of Danville, was pulling out of the restaurant when he struck the SUV. While Hoskins was uninjured, Lisa Sutton, the driver of the SUV, was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
     The wreck happened in the 2300 hundred block of Franklin Turnpike, shortly after 11 a.m. Hoskins has been charged with Failure to Yield Right of Way. (Photos: Leonard Harville)

Va. jobless rate unchanged in September:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — The Virginia Employment Commission says the state's jobless rate was unchanged at 5.5 percent in September. The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September also was the same rate as a year ago.
     Officials say Virginia's jobless rate has increased slightly for the past five months.
     Jobs decreases were seen in industries including private education and health services, professional and business services, construction, total government and miscellaneous services.
     Increases were seen in finance, as well as trade and transportation. Employment in leisure and hospitality, manufacturing and mining were unchanged.
     The Labor Department says unemployment rates fell in 31 U.S. states in September, rose in 8 states and were unchanged in 11. That's the smallest number of states to see an increase since April.
     The national unemployment rate was 5.9 percent.

Danville man drowns while fishing:
(Pittsylvania County, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County investigators say a Danville man drowned over the weekend in a canoe accident.
     39-year-old Larry Wayne Millner of Danville died Saturday evening when his canoe tipped over. Millner was pond fishing with a friend near Deer View Road in Pittsylvania County.
    The friend made it to shore but Millner drowned.

Danville Regional implements Ebola Preparedness Program:
(Danville, Va.) -- There have been no Ebola cases on the Southside, but Danville Regional Medical Center is implementing a plan to train staff and screen patients who may show symptoms of the disease.
     DRMC Infection Prevention Specialist Linda Sokos says a group of health care professionals began meeting in August to develop a plan of action and the hospital will start intensive training with “front line staff” this week.
       Groups of doctors, nurses and representatives from most departments in the hospital are meeting weekly to make sure plans are in place to “detect, protect and respond,” should anyone in our area be exposed to the virus.
      Should a patient have a fever or exhibit symptoms of Ebola, they will be asked if they have traveled outside the country in the past 21 days, particularly in areas were the disease is prevalent. If the answer is “yes,” hospital staff will immediately place the patient in isolation and contact the Virginia Department of Health about testing for Ebola.  
     She says DRMC is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure proper preventive procedures are in place.


House explodes in Reidsville:
(Reidsville, N.C.) – No one was hurt Monday night when a home exploded in Reidsville.  It happened a little after 8:30
at a vacant house on Route 158 East. 
      Rockingham County Fire Marshal Robert Cardwell says it appears copper thieves cut a liquid propane gas line, sparking the blast.  It sent debris flying 200 feet away, damaging a truck that was passing nearby. 
rews spent about an hour bringing the fire under control. 
      So far, no one’s been charged in connection with the blast. (Photo: Leonard Harville)
Pitt Co. School leaders approve teacher evaluation changes:
(Chatham, Va.) – The Pittsylvania County School Board has adopted some minor changes to their teacher evaluation process.
          Superintendent James McDaniel says they wanted to make the process as fair as possible throughout the district and lessen what some teachers called “subjectivity” in the old process.
          But since many of the changes made two years ago were state-mandated, McDaniel says their options were limited.  But they adopted 13 recommendations---most dealing with clarity and better communication.
          School Board Chairman Calvin Doss chaired a study committee that made the recommendations.

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