Thursday, December 12, 2013
Updated 12/12/13 at 11:15 pm
5 students arrested following middle school fight:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville Police made five arrests Thursday following a fight involving multiple students at Bonner Middle School.
According to a press release, school resource officers at Bonner learned of “a potential conflict involving several students over comments made by another student.”
The SRO’s warned the students of the consequences of a fight.
Later, at about 11:10 am, staff broke up a brawl involving the same students in the cafeteria. School resource officers responded immediately and Danville Police were called.
Police say a 13-year-old female student was assaulted by four female students, ranging in age from 13 to 15. These were the same students who were warned earlier in the morning.
As the SRO's were escorting the students away from the cafeteria, a 14-year-old male approached and attempted to start another fight. He was removed from school property along with the females.
All five students were charged with disorderly conduct. The female students were also charged with misdemeanor assault and battery. Their names are being withheld due to their ages.
Melony Stowe, Danville Public School’s director of communications, said all five students face automatic suspension as a result of the altercation. Stowe said the five will not be returning to school until police and school officials “determine consequences.” She said once the investigation is completed, school officials will determine what type of services the students will need during their suspensions.
Stowe says Principal Kevin Whitlock will be notifying parents of the incident, adding that “safety is our number one priority.”
Danville ranks high in Census Poverty survey:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville has the fourth-highest overall poverty rate in Virginia…the highest rate among school-age children, and the second-lowest median household income.
That’s according to the latest poverty survey from the US Census Bureau. It shows more than 39- percent of Danville's school-age population lives in poverty. That’s tied with Martinsville for the highest rate in Virginia, and its up slightly from a year ago.
The overall poverty rate in Danville is almost 26-percent---that's trails only Martinsville, Radford and Harrisonburg. The under-18 poverty rate in Danville is Virginia's highest; and its more than double the state average. Pittsylvania County's rates were also above the state average.
Also, the Census Bureau says the median household income last year in Danville was around 30-thousand-500 dollars. That’s the second-lowest in Virginia, trailing only Martinsville. Pittsylvania County’s median income was 42-thousand dollars. The state median was 61-thousand.
City leaders want Main St. Post Office re-opened:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council is ready to ask the US Post Service to reverse last month’s decision to close their Main Street Post Office indefinitely.
A postal spokesman says an inspection found chipping paint in back rooms that hadn't been painted since the 1970s. Crews are being brought in to address the problem.
The station had previously stopped window service; however, the postal department later resumed window hours on a limited basis.
In a resolution that’ll be voted on next week, Council points out how crucial convenient postal service is to downtown businesses and residents. They also note over a hundred (m) million dollars in recent investment in the River District.
The Danville Federal Building was built in 1934. The US Western District Court’s Danville division is on the second floor. The US Bankruptcy Court is on the third floor.
Reynolds enters House race:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- A former Martinsville mayor has entered the race to fill a Virginia House of Delegates seat.
Attorney Kimble Reynolds was certified as a candidate after filing paperwork with the Roanoke Voter Registrar. Reynolds lives in Roanoke and a law office in Martinsville.
Reynolds has run as a Democrat in past races. He served on former Fifth District Congressman Tom Perriello’s transition team in 2008 and later operated the Congressman’s headquarters in Martinsville. Ten years ago, he ran as a Democrat against Robert Hurt in the 16th District House of Delegates race, but lost.
Reynolds says he missed the deadline to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary. He says he tried to contact the Roanoke Democratic Party chairman but couldn't because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Democrat Sam Rasoul and Republican Octavia Johnson are the other candidates in the 11th District race. A special election is set for Jan. 7 to fill Onzlee Ware's seat.
Danville native charged in child's death:
Louisa County, Va.) -- A Danville native is charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse and neglect in Louisa County. This, after lab results determined her six-month old died from a lethal dose of Benadryl.
31-year old Tristan Tankersley Goodwin was arrested last week, nearly a month after she was indicted by a grand jury. Six-month-old Tyler Firth’s death in March was originally believed to have been the result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Lab results showed otherwise. Tests showed a lethal dose of Benadryl and high levels of Tylenol in his body.
Goodwin will remain locked up at the Central Virginia Regional Jail pending a Dec. 16 court date.
Congressional vote could mean $$$ for Pitt. Co. Schools:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County leaders are hoping they’ll get good news from Richmond and Washington as they get ready to set next year’s budget. Superintendent James McDaniel says that will add more than a (m) million dollars to next year’s budget---not including any pay hike for teachers. He’s hoping some of that can be offset by greater state aid to local school districts. McDaniel also says the budget deal being voted on those week in Washington would some of the cuts from the sequester earlier this year. That would mean 329-thousand dollars in restored cuts locally.
Dismissal request denied in Pitt. Co. case:
(Chatham, Va.) -- A Pittsylvania County judge has rejected a defense motion to throw out charges against a 55-year old Danville woman, charged with four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor nearly a quarter-century ago. That's according to a report in the Star-Tribune.
Mary McClellan Laughinghouse is free on bond until her trial date. She was 31 years old at the time of the alleged offense. They date back to 1989 and 1990. Authorities say the victim was a teenage boy who was in foster care at the time.
Laughinghouse worked with the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services. The now-42-year old victim came forward with the charges in 2011.
It was last year when state police got a warrant to search Laughinghouse's work records at the Social Services office in Tightsqueeze.
Police appeal for info. on flea market thief:
(Chatham, Va.) -- Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s investigators are hoping to return property stolen during numerous break-ins in the area.
In November, Campbell County investigators arrested Raymond Ray Hackett, who lives Milton Highway in Ringgold, for a break-in there. Hackett is also suspected of entries in multiple jurisdictions, including several in Pittsylvania County.
Hackett was a frequent vendor at flea markets across the region and is believed to have sold stolen merchandise at flea markets in Danville, Lynchburg and Roanoke.
Investigators are asking the public’s help in locating merchandise sold by Hackett. Of particular interest are firearms, jewelry, and electronics.
Pittsylvania and Campbell County investigators searched Hackett’s vehicle and residence and recovered a quantity of property believed to be stolen.
A property viewing was held at the Pittsylvania County Sheriffs Office in November and several victims were able to recover their belongings. Another property viewing is scheduled for next week and additional property viewings will be held as more items are recovered and victims are identified.
Anyone who has purchased merchandise from him in the past two years is asked to call Pittsylvania County Crimestoppers at 1-800-791-0074. You may be eligible for a cash reward.
Pitt. Co. School leaders weigh new location for STEM Academy:
(Danville, Va.) -- A new plan is in place for Pittsylvania County school leaders as they try to find a place to host a new STEM academy next fall.
Last month, the Board of Supervisors last night took no action on their request for help in purchasing an existing building. Superintendent James McDaniel says they're now looking at moving the Academy into the Pittsylvania County Cultural and Educational Center in Chatham---the former Planatarium building. McDaniel says renovations would cost at least one-and-a-half (m) million dollars. They're asking for grant money from the Danville Regional Foundation, along with the State.
McDaniel says there won’t be any room in that building for their Alternative School and Horizon Academy. Those programs will likely keep operating out of the White Oak Center, which the School Board leases.
Gag order issued in case of missing teenager:
(Nelson County, Va.) -- A Nelson County judge has signed a gag order in the Alexis Murphy case. The order includes lawyers for both sides, employees of their law firms, and law enforcement officials.
The suspect, Randy Taylor, was on hand at the hearing but did not speak.
Nelson County Commonwealth's Attorney Anthony Martin wants to prevent potential witnesses and law enforcement officials from disclosing information to the media and public about the case.
Taylor’s trial is set for February.
Murphy remains missing.
Death penalty sought in Pelham beating death:
(Pelham, N.C.) -- Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty, if they get a conviction in the 2007 beating death of an elderly Pelham man.
84-year-old Edward Bruce Jones was found inside his mobile home on Jones Road. Investigators labeled the death “suspicious” after they noticed a series of wounds to the upper torso. The state medical examiner confirmed Jones died from blunt force trauma.
It was just a few weeks ago when Caswell County authorities picked up a suspect, 27-year old David Nathaniel Allen of Reidsville. They say Allen had done some work for Jones and was suspected of stealing items from his home.
Allen will stand trial next year.
Caswell Co. couple could face the death penalty:
(Yanceyville, N.C.)-- A Caswell County couple accused of killing their 11-year-old daughter could face the death penalty if they're convicted.
Dominique and Willie Lunsford, Jr., are accused of starving their daughter, Danielle Lunsford. Danielle was taken to Danville Regional Medical Center in October 2010 — when she was 8. When she arrived, the little girl was in cardiac arrest, unresponsive, and severely malnourished. She weighed only 35 pounds.
Chief Caswell County Assistant District Attorney LuAnn Martin announced yesterday that the state would explore Capital Punishment if the couple is convicted. She says the Lunsfords home-schooled all of the children and hid them away from neighbors and relatives.
Danielle Lunsford passed away on Sept. 25 at Vidant Children’s Hospital after being on life support for nearly three years.
Danville City Council mulls pay hike:
(Danville, Va.) -- Danville City Council members earn less than any of their colleagues in Virginia---with the lone exception of Martinsville. Next week, they'll vote on a plan to give them their first pay hike in 24 years. The proposal would boost annual compensation for Council members from $5,000 to $7,000---the Mayor's compensation will increase from $8,000 to $12,000. This would still place Danville below compensation levels in most similarly-sized cities. There will be a public hearing next Tuesday before Council votes on the plan.
Martinsville firm to expand---again:
(Martinsville, Va.) -- Solid Stone Fabrics will spend a million dollars, creating 16 new jobs over the next three years as they expand their Martinsville facility.
David Stone, President and CEO, started the company in his home in 2003. Since then, they’ve grown from three employees to 24 with plans to add another 16 jobs in this latest expansion.
Solid Stone will continue to operate in their current location on Fayette Street---and will be expanding to the former American of Martinsville headquarters building on Church Street in Uptown Martinsville. They’ll use an additional 23-thousand square feet of manufacturing space. Stone says they expect to be fully operational in their new facility by next week.
The Tobacco Commission approved $100,000 for the project.