03:08pm, 04/21/15
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Local News

 Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Updated 4/21/15 @ 3:00 pm

Residents near Duke ash dumps told not to drink well water:
(RALEIGH, N.C.) (AP) -- State officials are advising an undisclosed number of residents near Duke Energy coal ash dumps not to drink or cook with water from their wells after tests showed contamination with toxic heavy metals.
      A law passed after last year's spill into the Dan River required the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to sample wells within 1,000 feet of Duke's 32 coal ash dumps.
      The Associated Press obtained letters sent to 19 homes and a church near Buck Steam Station in Salisbury advising people not to consume their well water. Several of the letters cite high levels of vanadium, a naturally occurring element found in coal ash classified as hazardous by federal health officials.
      State environmental officials have refused to comment on how many families are affected statewide.

Marshall named as chair of House committee:
(Richmond, Va.) – Danville Del. Danny Marshall will be appointed as Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, beginning next year.
     House Speaker William Howell said, Marshall brings a wealth of experience and understanding of the issues and “will do a tremendous job as Chairman.” The Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee is responsible for legislation related to Virginia’s largest industry.
      Marshall said he was honored to be named to the leadership position in a committee that deals with issues that directly affect his rural district and all of Virginia. Marshall has served on the ACNR Committee since 2006 and will become chairman when the General Assembly convenes for the 2016 session next January.
      Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources is one of 14 standing committees at the Virginia House of Delegates.

Panel makes seven utility recommendations:
(Danville, Va.) --
They’re not recommending the city sell their electric utility, but a committee IS making seven other recommendations to keep power costs down and increase efficiency.  
     The Electric Steering Committee has been meeting since October. It was formed after large industrial customers complained that the city’s rates were not competitive.  Among the recommendations---getting the word out about reducing peak demand. 
     Other recommendations include building more local power generation facilities, hiring a power supply consultant to get a handle on purchases, and making the Danville Utility Commission an independent panel.
     The utility commission has to approve the recommendations --- then they will be presented to city council next month.

City to get update on water tonight:
(Danville, Va.) --
City Council has carved out some time in tonight’s work session to get an update on the smelly drinking water.    The Department of Environmental Quality says the latest tests came back “inconclusive” for the presence of nutrients that could be associated with algal blooms.  Officials have speculated that is what is causing the problems.   Water plant operators are still adding carbon to the treatment process.  Also, the city is flushing out water storage tanks across the city to remove any water with a bad taste and smell. Customers may continue to notice an odd taste and odor in their tap water until the system is purged. The Office of Drinking Water confirms that all tests for regulated contaminants show the water is safe to drink.

Another effort to keep Sweet Briar open:
(Amherst, Va.) -- (AP) --
Another legal complaint has been filed seeking to halt the closure of Sweet Briar College.
     The complaint alleges breach of contract against the private women's college and President James Jones. The complaint also alleges interference by Jones.
     A group of Sweet Briar students, parents and alumnae filed the complaint last week in Amherst County Circuit Court.
     Sweet Briar College spokeswoman Christy says the complaint is inaccurate and legally defective.
     The group filed the complaint after a judge issued a 60-day injunction in a separate case barring the school from spending any charitable contributions on the closure.    The earlier ruling came in a complaint filed by Amherst County Attorney Ellen Bowyer seeking to block the college's closure.

Doss indicted for murder in Dec. beating death:
Chatham, Va.) -- A Gretna man who has been in jail for months on a malicious wounding charge has now been indicted for murder in the death of a Chatham woman.
      29-year-old Henry Daniel Doss Sr. is charged with second degree murder in the beating Mary Adkins Hooker, 44, on Dec. 1 at a home on Daniel Road.
      Doss was charged malicious wounding a week after the assault, while Hooker was still in the intensive care unit. She died Dec. 11 at Danville Regional Medical Center.
      Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Haskins said at the time that he was reviewing the case to determine whether Doss would be charged with a more serious offense. A Pittsylvania County grand jury met Monday and returned indictments charging Doss with second degree murder and aggravated malicious bodily injury. Doss is being held without bond.
     According to the court records, Doss was intoxicated when he allegedly grabbed Hooker by her hair and banged her head repeatedly on the floor before punching Hooker with his fist multiple times. The victim told investigators the two were not in a relationship and she didn’t know why he assaulted her.
     The sheriff’s deputy who answered the call said Hooker’s injuries included three broken ribs, possible nose bone fractures, fractures around her eyes and a contusion to her chest.

Woman arrested in Henry Co. murder:
(Ridgeway, Va.) --
A Martinsville woman was charged last night with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of a local man at a Ridgeway motel. 26-year old Wendella Lavette Millner (Pictured, left) of Martinsville is being held without bond.  She’s charged with shooting and killing 34-year old Shaun Tyree Martin (Pictured, left). He died after being shot during a disturbance at his room at the Kings Court Motel in Ridgeway.  The investigation began when officers got a call at around three-thirty yesterday morning.  Deputies found Martin dead on the porch in front of a room. An autopsy is planned today at the medical examiner’s office in Roanoke.

Halifax County man charged with first-degree murder:
(Nathalie, Va.) --
Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark says it took them about three hours Saturday night to track down a suspect in a shooting death.
     49-year-old Larry William Jennings of Acorn Road in Nathalie is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 48-year-old neighbor, Allen Lorenzo Boyd Jr., He  was fatally shot at his home on Acorn Road.
     Jennings was arrested on Route 501 in the northern section of the county --- about two miles from where the shooting took place.  That ended a three-hour long search that involved a Virginia State Police helicopter and tracking dogs.
     Jennings is in the Halifax Adult Detention Center being held with no bond. More charges are pending, and the investigation is ongoing.

School Board goes with less costly roofs:
(Danville, Va.) --
Danville School leaders might save a much as a million dollars by opting for a low-cost solution to installing new roofs at two schools. 
     The School Board last week went with a recommendation from Danville City Council to use shingles, as opposed to metal roofs, at Westwood Middle School and Schoolfield Elementary.
     While a metal roof is guaranteed for fifty years, several on Council pointed out a shingle roof would last 25-30 years at half the cost --- and there’s no guarantee that the school system will need those buildings in 50 years.
     The School Board voted last week to save a (m) million dollars on the roofs --- now that money can be used to make other needed repairs.

Council weighs plan for Hughes St. property:
(Danville, Va.) --
Local developers want to convert a building on Hughes Street into offices and commercial space.
     City Council tonight will hear from representatives with Danville Tobacco District, LLC.  They're asking City leaders approve a rezoning, allowing them to renovate to 425 Hughes Street. 
     The structure was used for retail for years; then sat vacant for some time.   CarVaGa industries moved in four years ago, providing educational and vocational training for students with disabilities, between the ages of 16 and 22.
     The Planning Commission is unanimously recommending Council approve the rezoning.

State weighing proposed expansion of Danville Historic District:
(Danville, Va.) -- Staffers are weighing a proposal to add the Ross Street area to Danville’s Historic District.
            The state Department of Historic Resources will hold a public meeting next month to explain what this would mean to landowners in that area.  The new portion of the district would include Ross and Grove Street, along with several nearby areas like Holbrook Avenue and Chambers Street.  It would also include Midtown Market, the Grove Street Cemetery, and Sacred Heart Church.
            This would add 21 acres to the district.  66 properties would be included.  Only nine of which are listed as “non-contributing.”
            A final vote will be taken in June.

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