03:31am, 10/21/14
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Monday, October 20, 2014
Updated 10/20/14 @ 5:20 pm


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.

Suspect in Va. abduction charged in DC area rape:
(Fairfax, Va.) -- (AP) — A man charged with the abduction of a University of Virginia student has been indicted in suburban Washington, D.C., with a 2005 rape, abduction and attempted capital murder.
     The indictment against Jesse L. Matthew Jr. was handed up Monday by a Circuit Court grand jury in Fairfax County.
     Matthew is being held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on a charged related to the Sept. 13 abduction of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old from northern Virginia. 
      Law enforcement officials who have been searching for Graham found human remains over the weekend. The state medical examiner has not made a positive identification.

Danville man beaten, robbed:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police are investigating a robbery that happened outside a local convenience market.
     Officers were called to the Joy Food Store on Riverside Drive to respond to an assault around 11:40 Sunday night.
Police say a man was leaving the store when someone attacked him from behind.
     The robbers made off with his cash. Police do not have a description of the robber, or robbers.
     The victim was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center.
     His injuries were not life-threatening.
(Photo: Leonard Harville)

North Carolina man killed in Henry Co. accident:
(Henry County, Va.) – Virginia State Police have identified the driver who was killed in a single-vehicle accident in Henry County about 3:30 Saturday afternoon.
   The trooper who investigated said Roy Kendrick, 81, ran off the right side of the road, overcorrected, and then ran off the left side of the road. The vehicle traveled down an embankment and crashed into a tree.
    Investigators say alcohol does not appear to have been a factor in the wreck. 
    The crash remains under investigation.

Remains may be those of missing UVA student:
(Charlottesville, Va.) -- Human remains believed to be those of missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham have been found, authorities announced Saturday evening.
     The 18-year old Graham of the Alexandria-area of Fairfax County, vanished in the early hours of Saturday Sept. 13. She was last seen by witnesses on the Downtown Mall with a man identified by police as Jesse L. Matthew Jr. of Charlottesville.
     Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo said authorities must still make a conclusive determination that the remains are Graham’s. But he said authorities have notified the teen’s family.
     Matthew was arrested in Texas last month in Graham’s disappearance and charged with abduction with intent to defile, indicating that police believe Matthew planned to sexually assault Graham. He is being held at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail without bond.
     Matthew has not spoken to investigators since Sept. 20, when he walked into the Charlottesville Police Department and asked to speak to a lawyer. Matthew’s attorney, James L. Camblos III, has declined to comment about details of his client’s case.


Pedestrian struck on Wooding Avenue:
(Danville, Va.) – Charges have been filed in a Friday afternoon accident that sent a pedestrian to the hospital. 
     Danville Police say two vehicles were racing in the 400 block of Wooding Avenue when the cars collided and left the roadway, striking a 20-year-old woman who was walking nearby. The pedestrian was taken to the hospital, where she was released following treatment.
     One of the drivers fled the scene but was apprehended a short time later. Police have since charged Jontay Edmund Coles of Danville with reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, and felony hit and run.
     The other driver, Eugene E. Glaze, was treated at Danville Regional Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. Charges against Glaze are pending.
     The wreck happened around 4:40 Friday afternoon. (Photos: Leonard Harville)

Governor says state is taking steps to respond to Ebola threat:
(Richmond, Va.) -- Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Friday that Virginia is taking additional steps to strengthen the level of preparedness for the Ebola virus by mobilizing a statewide unified command group. This group is responsible for coordinating resources and personnel. 
     The statewide unified command group will be composed of officials from the Governor’s Office, Department of Health, Department of Emergency Management, State Police, Department of Social Services, Department of Transportation, Virginia National Guard, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and others.
     State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine has activated the regional hospital coordinating system, which was developed after 9-11 and the anthrax attack of 2001, to assess our capability in each region of the state and ensure appropriate coordination. The Virginia Department of Health will lead the state’s ongoing health preparedness efforts supported by these other agencies.
     VDH, including its 35 health districts and local health departments, is working closely with the state laboratory, individual hospitals and first responders to make sure they have adequate training and protocols, established with the best guidance available, to care for Ebola patients safely. Following these guidelines thoroughly will help health care workers who are caring directly for patients with Ebola stay safe from infection.
     Over the next several weeks, this group will be developing additional statewide protocols for first responders to enhance their safety and readiness.

US senators seek answers on Ebola prep in Va.:
(Richmond, Va.) (AP) — U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are asking Virginia hospital and health officials how prepared the state is to deal with any patients who have symptoms of Ebola.
     The Virginia Democrats expressed their concerns in a letter to Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services William Hazel and the CEO of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, Sean Connaughton.
     In the letter released Friday, Kaine and Warner ask Hazel and Connaughton what is being done to ensure that Virginia hospitals and health care professionals have the supplies and training to deal with the deadly virus.
     They also ask whether additional resources are needed with preparedness efforts. The letter cites potential resources from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, among other federal agencies.

Committee to begin examination of Utilities Department:
(Danville, Va.)  -- A committee that is exploring the possibility of selling Danville’s utilities division will hold its initial meeting Monday.
     The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, in the City Council Chambers on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building.
     The steering committee consists of three members from the Danville Utility Commission – Bill Donohue, Michael Nicholas and Phillip Smith – and three members of City Council – John Gilstrap, Gary Miller and Fred Shanks. Smith will chair the committee, which will meet the first and third Mondays of each month through February.
     Recommendations will be provided to City Council on short- and long-term actions to reliably deliver electricity at competitive rates. The recommendations could involve adjusting service boundaries, offering customer choice of power suppliers, modifying rate structures, expanding privatization of operations, installing electric power generation facilities locally, using a combination of these and other measures, or selling the electric utility.
    In August, Danville Utility Commission members heard from large industrial customers, who told the group that the city’s rate was not competitive when compared to investor-owned utilities in Virginia and the national average. Commission members were asked to consider allowing industrial customers to purchase power elsewhere, offset the higher rates with tax incentives for job and tax retention, or sell the city’s power assets to another electric utility.
     Members on City Council have said they will consider any -- and all -- options as they look to reign in rate hikes in the future.

Fatal accident in Franklin County:
(Franklin County, Va.) -- An accident in Franklin County has claimed the life of a Henry man.
     Virginia State Police say 34-year-old Michael Henrey Guilliams ran off the left side of the roadway, overcorrected, then ran off the right side of the roadway and overturned.
     The single vehicle accident happened about 12:30 Friday morning on Route 780, two tenths of a mile south of Route 605 in Franklin County. Guilliams was a operating a 1998 Ford F-150 pick-up and was pronounced dead at the scene.
     The state trooper who investigated said Guilliams was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the truck. The crash remains under investigation.

Hilltop Exxon robbed:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police say a man carrying a rifle robbed the clerk at the Hilltop Exxon at 730 Piney Forest Road.
      According to investigators, a black male in his early thirties entered the convenience store about 11:45 Thursday night carrying what appeared to be a long-barreled rifle or a shotgun. He demanded money and fled the store of foot after getting an undisclosed amount of cash. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
      The clerk said the robber had a black bandana covering his face and was wearing a gray, hooded sweatshirt, gray sweat pants and white tennis shoes. 

Murder suspect turns himself in:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- A suspect in a Martinsville homicide turned himself in yesterday after police released his name and photograph as a suspect.
          Twenty-year-old Parnell Markese Rucker is being held in the Martinsville jail on two charges of first-degree murder and two counts of use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
          According to reports, Rucker was at a party in the 600 block of Forest Street on Saturday, October 11. 32-year-old Julius Keon Giggetts and 30-year-old Orlando Akridge were also there. An altercation at that party had spilled into Park Street. It is likely Giggetts and Akridge were not involved in the altercation.
          At 1:51 a.m. on Sunday morning, Giggetts and Akridge were found dead in the Park Street area.
          Officials believe Rucker may have turned himself in because he feared for his own personal safety. He is being held under no bond. The investigation is continuing.

DRF report card offers mixed bag for the region:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Regional Foundation has released its fifth annual report card on the Dan River Region. The survey breaks the region down into 25 categories, comparing the numbers with last year, the past decade and state averages.
      In Danville and Pittsylvania County, the report shows third grade reading proficiency is down sharply from five years ago. 
       But DRF Executive Director Karl Stauber says the numbers fell statewide because Virginia implemented a more rigorous reading test for third graders. He is encouraged that eighth grade math scores “have almost made it to the state average.”
      On the health front, obesity rates are up from a year ago, but progress has been made in reducing smoking in Danville and Pittsylvania County, although Stauber concedes “Caswell County still has a substantial way to go.”
     The number of children living in poverty in all three localities is increasing and Stauber says that’s a concern because children who live in poverty “are less likely to do well in school; they are less likely to be healthy; and they are less likely to have the skills they need to be prosperous adults.”
      The report also noted sharp declines in median household income over the past 12 years. On the plus side, it shows a higher percentage of locals now have post-secondary degrees.

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