Federal judge throws out 2 life sentences for DC Sniper Malvo

A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia’s most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings. 

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson in Norfolk said Malvo is entitled to new sentencing hearings after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. 

Malvo was 17 when he was arrested in 2002 for a series of shootings that killed 10 people and wounded three over a three-week span in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, causing widespread fear throughout the region. 
His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad, was executed in 2009. 

Malvo also was sentenced to life in prison in Maryland for the murders that occurred there. But his lawyers have made an appeal on similar grounds in that state. A hearing is scheduled in June.

Malvo is currently being held at Red Onion State Prison in Pound.

LCSO warning about new phone scam

Lee County Citizens are receiving phone calls being told that they are going to have their Power cut off unless they pay a bill. The scammers want you to pay via Western Union. THIS IS A SCAM. If you receive a call like this…CONFIRM NO INFORMATION AND HANG UP…THEN CALL YOUR POWER COMPANY DIRECT AND ASK THEM IF THERE ARE ANY ISSUES ON YOUR ACCOUNT. THIS WAY YOU KNOW YOU ARE REALLY TALKING TO THE POWER COMPANY AND NOT A SCAMMER. You can also call 911 and notify Lee County Law Enforcement if you feel you are the victim of a Scam.

Escaped Lee inmates captured in Mexico

The United States Marshals Service reports two federal prisoners who escaped from the U.S. Penitentiary in Lee County, VA were captured in Mexico today.

U.S. Marshals said they worked closely with Mexican law enforcement to capture Salah Mohamed, 35, and Kamal Qazah, 37.

According to authorities, Qazah was sentenced in the Western District of North Carolina in 2012 to 18 years in prison for his role in a cigarette smuggling ring spanning two years and two states — North Carolina and South Carolina from August 2009 to November 2011.

Mohamed was sentenced in a Virginia federal court in 2012 to more than 20 years for conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute cocaine base, cocaine hydrochloride and heroin; conspiracy to ship, transport, receive, possess, sell, distribute, and purchase contraband cigarettes and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments.

Qazah and Mohamed will be taken into U.S. custody once Mexican authorities return them to the U.S.

Wise County School Board votes to close Appalachia Elementary School

The Wise County School Board on Monday voted to close Appalachia Elementary School as part of the board's associated vote to approve its 2017-18 fiscal year budget.

Fourteen people opposed to the school closure addressed the board during the public hearing on the matter, including Appalachia Mayor Teddy Collins and Town Manager Fred Luntsford Jr.

The school opened in 1976 and now has approximately 300 students who will be moving into Powell Valley Primary and Middle School.

Wise County Superintendent Greg Mullins said they will be changing the names of those schools to Union Primary, and Union Middle School.

Mullins said all 35 staff members at Appalachia Elementary have also been reassigned to other schools in Wise County, but said most of them will be going to Union Primary, and Middle School.

Mullins said this decision is a result of a decline in enrollment, loss of jobs with the coal industry, and an overall stagnant economy in the area.

The county estimates they will be saving $600,000 annually by closing Appalachia Elementary School.

Wise County Synthetic Narcotic and Opioid Abuse Prevention Seminar

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PGPD receives several calls regarding bear sitings

Pennington Gap PD has received several calls regarding bears in the Town of Pennington Gap. We are currently working with Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries to address this problem. Please do not put any trash outside until it is time for the trash to be picked up on your street. Limit pet food and bird feeders outside your residence.

VDGIF will not trap or relocate a bear that is eating from your trash or bird feeders. It is your responsibility to remove the attractants from your property once a bear discovers the food source.

Wildlife Conflict Helpline (855) 571-9003

Or contact PGPD at 276-546-1162 or 276-546-1177

Do not attempt to trap or shoot any bear.

For more information on bears please visit:

LENOWISE Town Hall Meetings to be held discussing IDU and negative consequences

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Blood Drive at Lee County Courthouse May 24

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Wise county ordiance prohibits dogs and cats from running at large after rabies scare

County supervisors have passed an emergency ordinance to prohibit dogs and cats from running at large during specific periods between next Monday and mid-July.

The ordinance passed Thursday night is a response to rabies being found recently in a raccoon near Big Stone Gap. Based on county health department information, “there is sufficient reason to believe a rabid animal is at large,” the ordinance notes.

This comes after the VDH announced confirmed last week that a Virginia resident contracted rabies in India after being bitten by a dog.

Dogs and cats cannot run at large in county District Three, which includes Big Stone Gap, from May 15-29; in District One, which stretches from Appalachia to Pound, from May 29-June 12; in District Two, which stretches from Pound to the Wise and Coeburn area, from June 12-26; and in District Four, which stretches from Coeburn to St. Paul, from June 26-July 10.

The ordinance requires pet owners to cooperate with the health department and the county animal control office in efforts to determine what dogs and cats have received the rabies vaccine.

Folks who allow their dog or cat to run at large during their district’s quarantine period could face a fine of $5 to $25 per violation.

Meanwhile, the town of Big Stone Gap is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set traps to catch other raccoons for testing.

For more information about the town’s trapping activity, call town offices at 523-0115.

To report an animal suspected of being rabid, particularly a raccoon, call the health department at 328-8000, county animal control at 679-6750 or county dispatch at 328-3756.

Lee County residents can contact the health department at 276-346-2014 or dispatch at 276-346-7777.


Coalfield Progress

Pennington Gap Natives Win Corrections Week Bass Tournament

The Fourth Annual Correctional Officers Week Bass Fishing Tournament was held Wednesday at Norris Lake. Pennington Gap natives Sam Stapleton and Jeff Green took home the grand prize of $700 as well as the $100 Big Bass trophy with a 5-fish limit of 12lb 56oz.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed Proclamation 5187, creating “National Correctional Officers’ Week.” Each year, the first full week in May is recognized as National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, commemorating the contributions of correctional officers and personnel who work in jails, prisons, and community corrections across the country.