02:09am, 09/20/14
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Local News

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Updated 9/20/14 @ 12:01 am

Pilot identified in VIR plane crash:
(Halifax County, Va.) --
Roadracing World.com says the pilot of the vintage plane who died in Friday's crash at VIR was TOBC Racing Team Owner Jon Couch. Couch and a passenger both perished when the plane crashed and burst into flames Friday afternoon.Their remains will be transported to the Office of the Chief of Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination and autopsy.
    The plane was seen flying low over NC 62 in Milton just prior to the crash, and spectators at VIR reported that the plane was sputtering before it went down near the Patriot course, the smaller track at Virginia International Raceway. The World War II, T28-C single-engine plane crashed in a large field in the center of the Patriot course
     The aircraft was doing stunt flying at the track when tragedy struck about 5:10 p.m.
      A fireball could be seen after the plane crashed. The pilot was still in the cockpit but the passenger was apparently thrown from the aircraft.
     Firefighters from Semora and Halifax County responded and contained the resulting brush fire. Witnesses tell this newsroom there was little left of the plane.
     Virginia State Police are at the scene of the crash. Spokeswoman Corrine Geller says they were called to the race course in Alton, Va. at 5:16 Friday afternoon. She confirms that the pilot and a passenger both died in the crash. No one on the ground was injured. 
     The FAA and NTSB have been notified.

Greensboro police file charges in murder of Danville man:
(Greensboro, N.C.) -- A Greensboro man has been charged with the murder of a Danville resident earlier this month.
      21-year-old Montray Deboris Price of Greensboro, was arrested and charged in the death of 32-year-old Kevin Christopher Millner of Danville.
      Millner was found dead in his car during the early morning hours of September 2. The discovery was made by a passerby at the Holiday Inn Express on Big Tree Way in Greensboro.
      The state medical examiner determined that Millner died of a gunshot wound.
      Greensboro police say the homicide is still under investigation, as they don’t believe Price acted alone in the shooting.
      Price was jailed Wednesday and is being held without bond.

No agreement on local judgeship:
(Richmond, Va.) -- We will have to wait a little longer for a local judgeship to be filled. Danville Delegate Danny Marshall says Southside legislators could not agree on a finalist from four candidates in the running to replace Lee Stillwell as judge of Danville General District Court. 
     Marshall says one of the five area lawmakers thought they needed a cooling-off period before deciding.  Marshall expects the appointment to be reconsidered when the General Assembly reconvenes next month to name a new State Supreme Court judge.
     Sandra Chinn-Gilstrap appeared to be the pick earlier this year, but the nomination got caught up in partisan politics. Now, lawmakers are considering four candidates: Chinn-Gilstrap; Rocky Mount Attorney A.J. Dudley; former Martinsville prosecutor Joan Ziglar; and local attorney Bob Adams.
     The Danville Bar Association recently passed a second resolution, urging lawmakers approve Gilstrap.

McDonnells appeal verdict:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, are asking a judge to toss out their convictions on public corruption charges.
     Defense lawyers filed motions Thursday asking U.S. District Judge James Spencer to acquit them, or at least order a new trial. Spencer presided over the nearly six-week trial that ended Sept. 4 when the jury convicted Bob McDonnell on 11 counts and his wife on eight.
     The McDonnells were convicted of accepting more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from former Star Scientific Inc. CEO Jonnie Williams in exchange for promoting his company's dietary supplements. They claim in the new motions that prosecutors failed to prove they performed any "official acts" for Williams. The government has not yet responded.
     Sentencing is set for Jan. 6.

Lots of talk, little action on Virginia's Medicaid program:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) -- The General Assembly is taking no action to expand Virginia's Medicaid program.
     Lawmakers reconvened Thursday at the Capitol for a special session to debate expanding Medicaid to about 400,000 low-income adults.
     The GOP-controlled House voted 64-33 against a modified expansion bill.
     Several Democrats panned the special session as a waste of time, and mocked Republicans for not having any alternative proposals.
     Top Republican lawmakers defended the special session, saying they were fulfilling their promise to hold one made earlier in the year.
     The Senate and the House also voted to approve spending cuts for the state's two-year budget to help close a $2.4 billion revenue shortfall.No Medicaid action in special Va. session

Drug roundup underway in Henry County:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- 32 people have been indicted on drug charges in Henry County and 17 are in custody.
     The Henry County Sheriff's Office announced the joint drug operation Thursrday. It started in October 2013 and ended in May of this year. The investigation focused on known drug areas of the county.
     The sting resulted in 94 felony and 4 misdemeanor state charges against 32 adults. All were indicted last week and arrests began on Thursday. The sheriff's office is still looking for 15 people in connection with this case.

Rep. Hurt's jobs bill clears House:
(Washington, D.C.) -- A local Congressman’s jobs bill cleared the House Thursday. Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt’s “Small Business Capital Access And Job Preservation Act” was part of a larger jobs measure.
      The Chatham Republican says it would reduce government mandates and unnecessary regulations on private equity firms, regulations implemented by the new Dodd-Frank law.
     Hurt introduced a similar measure two years ago. It passed the House but failed in the Senate.

Volunteers plan return trip to Mississippi:
(Danville, Va.) -- God’s Pit Crew will be making a return trip to Louisville, Mississippi next month to build a home for an elderly couple who lost everything when a tornado ripped through the town on April 28th.
     Crew Chief Randy Johnson says they met Randy and Diane in the spring and felt compelled to return and help them rebuild.
      But they need money for fuel to make the 700 mile trek to Mississippi.
      They’re accepting donations and the Checkered Pig has agreed to donate 15% of its proceeds from sales next Thursday.
      Johnson says they’re also looking for some skilled craftsmen who are willing to make the trip.
      Johnson says it will take about 14 days to complete the project.

Escapee from Southern Virginia back in custody:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Police Department says the man who escaped custody while being held at the Southern Virginia Mental Health Institute has been returned.
       A press release offered no details, other than to say that 27-year old Michael Antwan Henderson was back in custody. The Halifax County man escaped from Southern Virginia Wednesday at around 7 p.m. He is wanted in Halifax County on felony charges.

Former Halifax Supervisor arrested for embezzlement:
(Halifax County, Va.) -- A former Halifax County Schools employee is free on bond following his arrest this week. Earl Womack was taken into custody after being charged with taking money from the school system.
     Halifax County authorities say Womack was released after posting bail following his arrest Monday. A grand jury indicted Womack last week on six counts of obtaining money under false pretense and one count of embezzlement.
     Womack, who is also a former Halifax County Supervisor, is scheduled to appear in court next week.

Second arrest made in Henry County hold-up:
(Galax, Va.) -- A second man sought in the armed robbery of a Henry County convenience store has been arrested in Galax, Virginia. 29-year-old Joshua Lee Cloud of Martinsville was arrested Wednesday in Galax and is being held in the New River Regional jail without bond.
      Cloud and 31-year-old George Koulouris are charged with robbing the Village Market in Basset on August 7.
      According to Henry County investigators, the two men entered the store around 10 p.m., one armed with a handgun. Both were wearing masks and gloves and took money from the register and a purse belonging to one of the clerks before fleeing on foot.
     Both face robbery and firearms charges.
     Koulouris was arrested earlier and is being held in the Henry County Jail without bond.  

Videos show man was following UVA coed:
(Charlottesville, Va.) (AP) -- Police say they've reviewed additional surveillance videos from two businesses showing a missing University of Virginia student and others walking the night she disappeared.
     Charlottesville police Capt. Gary Pleasants said Wednesday night the videos of 18-year-old Hannah E. Graham taken early Saturday are from the Downtown Mall, a popular row of shops and restaurants.
     One video shows Graham walking by a shop's doorway, and a male who had stopped there steps out and follows her.  Another video filmed two minutes later shows the same male following Graham, who is next to someone else.
     Police released two other surveillance videos earlier Wednesday showing her walking past a pub and running past a service station.

US judge in W.Va. delays gay-marriage ruling:
(Huntington, W.Va.) (AP) -- A federal judge in West Virginia has delayed ruling on a lawsuit challenging the state's same-sex marriage ban, that while awaiting a ruling in a Virginia case by the nation's highest court.
     U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington says due to the "overlap of issues" presented in the West Virginia case and a similar one in Virginia, he put the case on hold this week pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
     In August the Supreme Court delayed a decision by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, that struck down that state's gay marriage ban.
     A number of similar rulings around the country have been put on hold while appeals are pursued.
     The West Virginia lawsuit was filed on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple.
     The Supreme Court returns from recess in October.

Council approves domestic abuse shelter:
(Danville, Va.) -- A Good Samaritan will get to open a domestic violence shelter in Danville.  It’ll be the city’s first in four years.
          Alfrieta Bennett-Reaves is the founder of "Present Help Ministries."  They will open a shelter in a house on Stokes Street. They can house up to five victims, but for no more than sixty days
          It was four years ago when the Doves shelter closed in Danville. The next-closest domestic violence shelter is in Altavista.  Haven of Danville is set to open their shelter in Danville later this year.

More Pittsylvania Co. schools meet benchmarks:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Final scores from spring SOLs show 16 of 18 schools in Pittsylvania County are fully accredited. That’s up from 13 a year ago.
     The increase is in contrast to the statewide numbers. In 2013, 77% of schools were fully accredited.  This year, only 70% made the grade.
     Hurt and Kentuck Elementary are now listed as “Accredited with Warning.” All four county High Schools qualified under the Graduation Completion Index.
     In Danville, 3 of the 11 schools are fully accredited.  Galileo, GW High School and Forest Hills Elementary met all of the benchmarks.
     Also, Danville’s Alternative School at Langston will remain under what’s called “focus school” status, meaning students scored in the lowest five-percent of Virginia’s Title-One Schools. That requires that the Focus Center hire a turnaround specialist to help boost test scores.

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