Lee officials represent the county at SWVA Health Authority meeting

Officials from Lee County joined the SWVA Health Authority meeting yesterday to stress the much-needed hospital reopening as part of the proposed merger between Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance.

A delegation from Lee County addressed the Southwest Virginia Health Authority board who is currently reviewing the merger application filed by the region's health systems.

Wellmont closed the Lee County Hospital in 2013, citing lack of usage, high reimbursement costs under the Affordable Care Act and a lack of physician coverage at the rural facility.

Sheriff Gary Parsons told the authority board that people are dying because the county has no hospital.

The group also cited stresses on the volunteer emergency medical providers, time to reach and transport emergency medical cases to hospitals in Kingsport or Big Stone Gap and  the economic challenges for the region.

Chairman Terry Kilgore said the committee dealing with access to care would review the Lee issue, as part of its work. The authority continues working to determine if the application is complete and can be sent on to the state.

USP Lee camp escapee located in Washington state

One of America’s Most Wanted fugitives has been spotted in SeaTac after escaping from USP Lee's camp 8 years ago. The U.S. Marshals are asking for the public’s help to locate Edward Porta.   

In 2007, The 61-year-old pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government out of more than $400,000 for his role in a cotton import\export scheme that also ripped off banks and businesses in the U.S. and Mexico for more than $2.5 million dollars.  He and was sentenced to 38 months in prison. Because he was not convicted of a violent crime, he was placed in a low security area at the US Penitentiary Lee County Satellite Camp in Virginia.  Porta walked away on February 25, 2008. His case was featured on America’s Most Wanted in 2009. 

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Lee Hospital Authority added to Health Meeting agenda

First District Delegate terry Kilgore has placed the Lee County Hospital Authority on the agenda for Wednesday, May 25 at 3 p.m. for the meeting of the Southwest Virginia Health Authority at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon.

Citizens are urged to attend and support the county's efforts to reopen the hospital. If you are in need of transportation for this meeting, please contact 346-2363. The Farm Bureau Agency will be providing transportation. They will leave at noon.

Wise County IDA facing lawsuit for failure to uphold animals activist’s will

Wise County, Virginia's Industrial Development Authority is facing a lawsuit over a large amount of money left to them in a local woman's will. Carol Buchanan left the county $1 million to be used for an animal shelter but in April, a foundation run by her family filed a complaint claiming her wishes have not been fulfilled five years after her death.

Buchanan passed away in 2011 and in her will she left $1 million and her 40-acre property to the IDA on the condition it be turned into an animal sanctuary. She wanted the sanctuary to offer spay and neuter surgeries and to be open certain hours during the week for public visitors.

On April 29, a lawsuit was filed against the IDA by The Columbus Phipps Foundation based in Dickenson County, the group the estate was willed to if the county IDA failed to create the sanctuary after two years.

According to the will, if the property is turned over to the foundation, the group is not obligated to use it as an animal sanctuary.

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Summer Meals Program for Lee County

Summer Meals (breakfast and lunch) will be served Monday-Friday June13- August 12. Meals are available at no cost to children 18 and under. Anyone over 18 may purchase breakfast for $2.00 and lunch for $3.00. Breakfast will be available from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and lunch will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the following locations-

Thomas Walker High School in Ewing

Dryden Elementary School

St. Charles Elementary School

First Baptist Church in Pennington (lunch only)

Keokee High School (lunch only)


-211 is a toll-free number families can call to find a summer feeding site closest to their neighborhood

-Neighborhood feeding site locations can be found at the No Child Hungry website http://va.nokidhungry.org/find-free-summer-meals

For more information contact Ms. Connie Daugherty, School Nutrition Director at @ 276-346-2107 or email connie.daugherty@leecountyschools.net.

Republicans want McAuliffe’s voting rights executive order reversed

Virginia Republicans want the state Supreme Court to reverse the action of Governor Terry McAuliffe after he issued an executive order restoring voting rights of more than 206,000 felons in April.

The suit claims the Constitution of Virginia does not allow the use of executive authority in the matter.

“The Constitution of Virginia forbids this unprecedented assertion of executive authority,” the filing states. “Governor McAuliffe’s executive order defies the plain text of the Constitution, flouts the separation of powers, and has no precedent in the annals of Virginia history.  The Governor simply may not, with a stroke of the pen, unilaterally suspend and amend the Constitution.”

McAuliffe countered the lawsuit’s statement regarding the Constitution.

“The Constitution of Virginia grants the Governor ample authority to restore the rights of people who have served their time, and does not place any limitation on that authority that would be relevant to the issue at stake in this lawsuit,” McAuliffe stated.

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Two Wise County inmates indicted for attempted murder charges

Two Wise County prisoners face attempted murder charges after authorities said they attempted to kill corrections officers in two separate incidents.

A grand jury recently returned indictments against Kashaun M. Ricks, 22, an inmate at Red Onion State Prison, and Derwin A. Osbourne, 45, an inmate at Wallens Ridge State Prison.

Ricks was indicted on charges of assault and battery of a corrections officer, possession of a weapon by a prisoner and attempted murder of a corrections officer, following an incident reported on March 3, 2015. The indictment says Ricks attempted to kill Corrections Officer Skyler White.

Osbourne faces four counts of assault and battery of a corrections officer, one count of possession of a weapon by a prisoner and two counts of attempted murder of a corrections officer.

His indictment states that Osbourne attempted to kill Corrections Officer Bradley C. Salyers on Oct. 6, 2015. Victims of the assault and battery are listed as Salyers, Steven Taylor, Larry Bryant and Jason Johnson.

Both indictments say the two were in possession of a “knife, instrument, tool, or other thing not authorized by the Virginia Department of Corrections.”

Wise County is home to the two state supermax prisons. Any incident reported at Red Onion or Wallens Ridge is investigated and prosecuted in the county.

County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp declined to provide details about the incidents Thursday, but said “homemade weapons” were used.

“These were reports that came straight from the prisons,” Slemp said. “They are internal prosecution reports. The Department of Corrections issues a prosecution report and sends it to me.”

He explained that the DOC investigates and provides reports for the commonwealth’s attorney.

“The officers will come and testify to the grand jury and eventually this information would be handed over to the defense attorney and made part of the public file,” Slemp said.

According to the DOC, Ricks was scheduled to be free in 2018 on charges in Suffolk, Virginia. He remains in custody at Red Onion.

Osbourne’s current whereabouts were not available Thursday.

A recent Wise County grand jury also indicted other Red Onion and Wallens Ridge prisoners on various charges, including drug possession and assault.

The attempted murder of a corrections officer charge has a punishment range of 20 years to life in prison and the other charges have sentences of up to five years in prison.

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WCSO Weekly Activity

May 19, 2016
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office reports the following activities for the period of 05/09/2016 through 05/15/2016.
Wise Central Dispatch received a total of 1,595 calls for this seven-day period.
Of the total calls received 293 were dispatched to the Sheriff’s Office
Total number of Domestic calls for this period was 6.
Criminal Process for this period:  Served 43 Felony Warrants, 19 Misdemeanor Warrants, 0 DUI Arrests.
Civil Process Served:  454 Civil Papers
Traffic Accidents:  6
6 Additional Criminal Investigations were initiated and 8 Cleared by Arrest.
Sheriff’s Office provided 264 man-hours of Court Room Security.
Unlocked Vehicles: 16
Escorted Funerals:  8
The Sheriff’s Office Total Transport for this period:  9
Total Transport Hours:  54.25
2,102 Visitors to Courthouse.

National Police Week

This week is National Police Week. This week, as in all weeks, we honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty whilte protecting the communities and safe-guarding democracy.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. Currently, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, DC to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Dryden Alumni Concert

Dryden Alumni Concert on May 21st at Lee High is to honor all area Veterans and Soldiers. All are welcome. Tickets are $10 at the door or you can purchase at Dryden Elementary.