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Local News

Friday, June 23, 2017
Updated 6/23/17  10:20 am

Mountain Valley review finds limited environmental impacts:
(Roanoke, Va.) (AP) -- An environmental assessment of the proposed Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline finds the project would have "significant" impacts on forests in Virginia and West Virginia but "limited" other adverse effects. 
      The analysis was published Friday by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees interstate natural gas pipelines. Its release marks a milestone in the approval process for the approximately 300-mile pipeline.
      FERC commissioners, who are presidential appointees, will consider the analysis in making a final decision. The commissioners don't currently have a quorum, though two of President Donald Trump's nominees are pending before the Senate.
      The Mountain Valley Pipeline and similar Atlantic Coast Pipeline have drawn opposition from environmental groups and many landowners along the routes. But many political and business leaders say the projects are necessary for economic development.
     The 303-mile pipeline would start in West Virginia and cross six Virginia counties from Giles to Pittsylvania.

Drug and weapons arrests continue in Danville:
(Danville, Va.) – All but three of the 22 people named in drug and firearms indictments in Danville have been arrested by local police.
    Teams went out early Thursday morning and began rounding up suspects. The arrests continued throughout the day. The drug charges include illegal possession or distribution of marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. The firearms-related charges involve false statements on paperwork associated with the purchase of guns as well as straw purchases.
      One of those arrested received a federal charge and was transported to Roanoke by special agents with the ATF. 
      Investigators are still seeking 3 individuals: Eric Wimbush, 39, on one count of distribution of a controlled substance; Troy Lee Thompson III on 2 counts of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; and 30-year-old Dennis Monta Logan, who is charged with a probation violation.
     Anyone with information on these individuals’ whereabouts is asked to contact Danville Crime Stoppers at (434) 799-6508.
Reward offered in coin heist:
(Danville, Va.) -- A $1,500 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the theft of more than $12,000 in coins taken from Associated Services Corporation on Wednesday, June 14. The burglary was discovered the following morning and happened sometime the previous night.
     Someone forced their way into the business on River Park Drive and stole thousands of dollars in quarters, many still packed in plastic and paper coin wrappers.       
     Anyone with information is asked to call Danville Crimestoppers at (434) 793-0000.
     You do not have to give your name to collect the reward.
Danville Humane Society offers $500 reward:
(Danville, Va.) -- The Danville Area Humane Society is offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest after a litter of abandoned kittens was found in Brosville.
     Society Director Paulette Dean says the five kittens are just a week old and were left at Sam Haley and Joe Carter Roads in Pittsylvania County.
      A “good Samaritan” brought the kittens to the animal shelter and they are currently nursing with a mother cat that came in with just one kitten.
      Dean says the kittens are weak but otherwise fine.
      The reward is being offered through the Earl Merricks Stop Abuse Fund that was established by Deb and Harold Merricks in memory of their adopted dog, Earl. Anyone with information should call Danville Area Humane Society at (434) 799-0843.You do not have to give your name to qualify for the reward.

13 injured in two-car collision in Rockingham County:
(Rockingham County, N.C.) – The North Carolina Highway Patrol says 13 people were injured in a two-vehicle wreck in Rockingham County Wednesday night.
     The accident happened on NC 770 near Stoneville. One car was carrying three children and four adults. Two of the children suffered critical injuries and one was airlifted to the hospital. The other five were transported to the hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries and released.
     Six people in the second car were treated at the scene.
     The cause of the crash is under investigation.
Danville man charged with Burlington rape:
(Burlington, N.C.) -- A Danville, Virginia, man was arrested by local police Wednesday night on rape charges in Burlington, N.C.
      35-year-old Monsijour Jaamal Merritt was jailed on charges of first-degree forcible rape, first-degree kidnapping, assault by strangulation and assault in the presence of a minor.
     Earlier in the day, Burlington police officers responded to the 500 block of Parkside Drive in reference to a physical and sexual assault of a female. The victim was interviewed by officers and treated and released from Alamance Regional Medical Center.
     North Carolina authorities say Merritt turned himself over to Danville Police. Merritt is currently being held under no bond in Danville. 
Amber Alert cancelled; 4-year-old Smyth County girl safe:
(Smyth County, Va.) -- Virginia State Police have cancelled an Amber Alert for a missing 4-year-old girl from Smyth County after she was found safe in the Rockingham County/Harrisonburg area early Thursday morning. They have also arrested her alleged abductor, 26-year-old Joel Long. He was taken into custody without incident. The girl was unharmed and is being returned to her family.
      The Smyth County Sheriff's Office said Kimberly Jane Long was taken from a home on View Drive in Smyth County about 9:30 Wednesday night and that the toddler was in "extreme danger." Police said the two were traveling in a 1998 maroon Toyota Tacoma with VA license plate VWA 4004.
17 year sentence in Fieldale murder:
(Henry County, Va.) -- Jonathan Rivera-Olvera pleaded guilty Wednesday to first-degree murder in the 2014 shooting death of Alfonso Navarro-Pena.
     According to the Martinsville Bulletin, The 27-year-old was sentenced to 17 years for murder and firearms convictions in Henry County Circuit Court. Charges related to the 2014 shooting death of Alfonso’s brother, Noel Navarro-Pena were dropped.
      Noel’s body was found lying near a pickup in a parking lot near the main gate to the Smith River Sports Complex on June 27, 2014. The body of 40-year-old Alfonso was discovered in the cab of a truck on Daniel Road the same day.
      A jury in December convicted co-defendant James Travis Moore of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of murder in the shooting death of Noel. The panel found Moore not guilty in Alfonso’s murder. Moore was sentenced in March to 23 years in prison.

Halifax Co. storeowner disappears:
(Halifax County, Va.) -- Halifax County investigators admit they are stumped by the disappearance of a woman who has been missing since Saturday.
       Emma Compton Layne was last seen at the Cody Store, which she owns, and friends say her disappearance is out of character.
      A family member says she last spoke with Layne on Saturday about plans for the following day, but Layne never showed up at the destination.
      The Halifax County Sheriff's Office hasn’t been able to find a trace of her. A K9 unit was at the home Tuesday and investigators are asking anyone with information to call the Halifax County Sheriff’s Department.
Man convicted in string of robberies:
(Danville, Va.) -- The second of three men charged in a string of local robberies was convicted Wednesday in Danville Circuit Court.
     According to the Danville Register and Bee, 21-year-old Jevon Zackeal Williams was convicted on two counts of robbery, attempted robbery, petty larceny and conspiracy to commit robbery.
     Two pizza delivery drivers and a woman were the victims of the January crime spree.
       Williams, 19-year-old Saheem Roger Waddell, and 20-year-old Joshua Malik Coleman were all charged in the Jan. 17 incidents. Two pizza delivery drivers were robbed on Glendale Ave. and Claiborne Street. An attempted robbery was also reported by a woman who was leaving an ATM at a credit union on the Piney Forest Road.
      Waddell entered guilty pleas last month and will be sentenced June 27. An Aug. 28 sentencing date has been set for Williams.

Danville City Council approves budget:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council approved the new budget by a 7-2 vote Tuesday night. Councilmen Fred Shanks and Madison Whittle voted against the $288 million package.
      The budget includes about $2.5 million in new spending on three target areas: fighting violent crime, improving education and attracting jobs. $720,000 is earmarked for crime fighting initiatives and $200,000 for economic development.
    The plan includes a hike in the real estate rate from 73- to 80-cents per hundred dollar valuation. Danville’s lodging tax will increase from 6 to 7 percent.
     The 2017-18 budget increases funding for public schools by about $1.6 million to about $20.6 million.   

Traffic stops yield guns and a kilo of cocaine:
(Halifax County, Va.) – A routine traffic stop in Halifax County has resulted in the seizure of more than a kilo of cocaine.
      Deputy T. H. Clarke stopped on a car on Philpott Road at around 6:30 last Wednesday evening and discovered a cache of cocaine, other drugs and guns.
     The deputy found two pounds of marijuana, several bags of a synthetic drug and a kilo of cocaine with a street value of over $100,000. Guns were also found in the vehicle.
     31-year-old Antonio Logan of Richmond was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including possession and distribution of drugs and firearms by a convicted felon. He is being held in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail under no bond.

Teen’s murder case headed to the grand jury:
(Chatham, Va.) -- A Pittsylvania County teen is a step closer to standing trial for a spring murder.
     A first-degree murder charge against 18-year-old Philip Michael Giles has been certified to the grand jury.
     Giles was arrested in South Carolina after fleeing the area following the shooting death.
     Pittsylvania County investigators believe he is the man who shot 18-year-old Demetrius Lee Brown in the head on the night of August fifth. Brown’s father found his son lying in the roadway not far from their home on Kadesh Court.

Search mounted for missing teen:
(Pittsylvania County, Va.) – Authorities are looking for a Gretna teen who was last seen on Monday.
    The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s department is asking for help in finding 17-year-old Tuesdee Sky Miller. Miller is a white female, 5’1” weighing 85 lbs.  She has brown eyes and black hair.  
      Miller was reported missing on June 19 from her home in Gretna, Virginia.
      If you’ve seen her, you’re asked to call the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office at 434-432-7931.  

Jay Lancaster moved from Galileo to GW High School:
(Danville, Va.) – Jay Lancaster is the new principal at George Washington High School. The appointment was one of several announced Monday by Danville School Superintendent Stanley Jones.
    Lancaster is being moved from Galileo Magnet High School, despite the objections of parents, students and teachers, who appealed to the school board earlier to leave Lancaster at Galileo. He replaces Randall Stokes at GWHS. Stokes has been named a coordinator of alternative education programs.
      Angela Ramsey, who is currently an assistant principal at Bonner Middle School, succeeds Lancaster as principal at Galileo.
     The switch was announced Monday in a news release from the superintendent.
     In other appointments, Thomas Takacs, was named principal of GLH Johnson Elementary School; Larry Toomer, assistant principal of GLH Johnson Elementary School; and Rhonda Wright, principal of Grove Park and Northside preschools.    

Danville City Council to vote on budget Tuesday night:
(Danville, Va.) – Danville City Council is set to approve a new budget that focuses on three initiatives and increases the real-estate tax from 73 cents per $100 to 80 cents per $100.
   The plan focuses on improving public schools, reducing violent crime in the city, and promoting economic growth and attracting jobs.
      The Danville Police Department will see an increase in funding of about $700,000. The money will be used to add several new community service officers and to pay for equipment purchases and upgrades.  
       Council will provide about $21 million for the school system, with $2 million earmarked for capital improvements.
      The new fiscal year begins July 1. Council is scheduled to approve the budget Tuesday night.

Storms cause flooding and power outages in the Triad:
(Greensboro, N.C.) – Severe weather left thousands without power in the Triad Monday, while heavy rains flooded roads and parks.
      As of midnight, more than 4,600 customers in Guilford County were without power and more than 2,100 customers were without electricity in Alamance County. Crews are working to restore power and most customers should be back on line later this morning.
      Heavy rain also resulted in flooding in parts of the Triad. The national Weather Service says 2-to-4 inches of rain fell Monday night on top of the already saturated ground, leading to flash flooding of creeks and low-lying areas.
      Cars were left stranded in flood waters Monday night on McKnight Mill Road in Greensboro and also on Bowman Road in Alamance County. Lindley Park in Greensboro was under water and flooding was also reported at Latham Park. 
Martinsville fills police chief’s job from within the department:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- Eddie Cassady is the new chief of police in Martinsville.
     Cassady started his new job Monday. He has been with the department since 1981and started his law enforcement career with the city at age 21.
     Cassady has risen through the ranks from patrol officer, to corporal, to lieutenant, to interim and deputy chief and is now the city’s chief of police.
     As the new head of the department, Cassady says he plans to continue to focus on crime prevention and community policing.
     He succeeds Sean Dunn, who announced earlier this month that he was leaving to become police chief in Williamsburg. Dunn has held the post for the past three years.

Muslim girl’s murder not a hate crime:
(Fairfax, Va.) (AP) -- Authorities say a man charged with murder in the death of a Muslim teen who was attacked near her Virginia mosque became enraged after getting in a fight with one of the girl's friends.
     Police say 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen died of blunt force trauma to the upper body after 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres attacked her with a baseball bat in a Washington suburb.
      Police have described it as a road rage incident and say there's no evidence to suggest it was a hate crime.
      The girl's father says he doesn't understand how this could have happened and that his daughter was a friend to everyone.
      Martinez Torres was arraigned Monday and denied bail pending a July 19 court appearance. A judge appointed him a public defender, whose office declined comment.

Myrtle Beach shootings go viral with Facebook post:
(Myrtle Beach, S.C.) – More than a half-dozen people were injured in a shooting in Myrtle Beach early Sunday morning.
     Video of the incident was live streamed to Facebook where it had more than a million views.
     Police responded to the scene of Fifth Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard shortly before 12:30 a.m. Sunday to break up a fight.
     A man pulled out a gun and started shooting, according to police. He then allegedly carjacked a vehicle and fled the scene.
     Seven people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, including the shooter, who was shot by an armed security officer, according to police.
      Police said the suspect has been apprehended, but have not released his name. No officers were injured.

Arrests made in drug probe in Caswell County:
(Yanceyville, N.C.) – Caswell County investigators capped a lengthy undercover drug probe Friday with numerous arrests.
      A grand jury returned felony indictments against individuals charged with the illegal sale of narcotics.
     The operation began in November of 2016 and focused on street level drug dealers. The department’s narcotics division purchased marijuana, crack cocaine, methamphetamine and prescription pills.
     21 suspects were indicted on a total of 105 charges.

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