Sheriff’s Department Arrests Two on Drug Charges

According to a press release, Sheriff Gary Parsons has reported an early morning traffic stop has resulted in the arrest of two individuals on multiple drug charges. On June 29th, Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Rouse observed a maroon Honda Accord swerving across the center lines several times. When Rouse pulled the vehicle over and spoke with the driver, Glenn Adam Hilliard of Kingsport Tennessee, he noticed that his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. After three different failed field sobriety tests, Hilliard stated that he had been smoking marijuana and methamphetamines earlier that day.

Deputy Rouse, along with Lt. Todd Jones did an inventory of the vehicle and charged Hilliard with driving under the influence of drugs, distributing a schedule I or II drug, 2 counts of possession of a schedule I or II drug, possession of marijuana, 3 counts of possession of a schedule III drug, and possession of controlled paraphernalia.

The vehicle’s passenger, 30 year old Vincent Ray Tester of Bristol TN, was also arrested and charged with multiple drug-related offenses. It was later found that Tester was wanted in Bristol, VA for an assault charge. Both men were given no bond and their arraignment was set for July 1st.

USDA Value-Added Producer Grant

July 7 is the last day to apply for the Value-Added Producer Grant through the USDA. Thirty million dollars has been made available to farmers, ranchers, and food entrepreneurs to develop new product lines. Electronic applications through grants.gov are due by tomorrow, July 2nd, but paper applications are being accepted until next Tuesday, July 7th.

Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply for this program. Certain groups will be given special priority including new farmers, military veterans, socially disadvantaged, and others. For more information on this go to www.usda.gov/farmbill.

LCHA Meeting Update

According to LCHA Attorney Jeff Mitchell, the meeting in Washington D.C. was a success. It gave commissioners a chance to update Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Congressman Morgan Griffith, on the status of the efforts to re-open a hospital in the county. Mitchell says the commissioners discussed the next steps in the process and issues to consider with the state and federal regulators. He added, “The Senators and Congressman Griffith were very, very strong in their support of the effort”.

Daniel Boone SWCD Cost-Share Deadline

Today is the last day to sign up with the Daniel Boone Soil and Water Conservation District for 100% cost-share funding for Grazing Land Best Management Practices through the Virginia Agricultural Cost-Share Program. Only those applications received by 4:30 today will be eligible for 100% cost-share. After today, applicants will only be eligible for a reduced cost share at 20/80% on Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management practices.

Those who qualify for this funding must:
* be an individual, partnership, corporation, trust, or other business operating a farm in Virginia
* have a water quality issue on your farm that needs to be addressed;
* submit a complete and timely application to DBSWCD

If qualified, applicants must
* be approved by DBSWCD
* meet VACS technical specifications; and
* pass a field inspection, if one is required

For more information, call 346-1531.

Fourth of July Events

Lee County will celebrate the Fourth of July this weekend with events throughout the county. On Friday July 3, Jonesville will hold their fireworks celebration at Cumberland Bowl Park, beginning at dark. A softball tournament will be held at the park on Saturday and Sunday, July 4 and 5.

Pennington Gap will begin their celebration on the 4th at Leeman Field. The events will start at 9 a.m. with tennis and horseshoe tournaments. Basketball, Volleyball, and Soccer tournaments will begin at 10 a.m., along with a tractor show. The pool will also open at 10 a.m. An auto show will begin at 11 a.m. and pool games will start at 2. The tractor pull will begin at 4 p.m. and from 5-8 the Pennington Gap Police Department, along with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department will do finger printing. Cumberland River will perform on stage from 8 to 9:55. Fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. Questions about the event should be directed to Town Hall at 546-1177.

St. Charles will also hold their own Independence Day celebration on the 4th beginning at 10 a.m. The events will include fishing games for kids, horseshoes, and possibly karaoke. Red Hannah will perform at 2:30 and continue until the fireworks are started at dark. For information on the St. Charles Independence Day celebration, contact Fire Chief Chris Sprinkle at 346-5021.

Saturday Events

Don’t forget that the Dryden Crusaders and Friends are sponsoring a fund raiser for the students of Dryden Elementary School tomorrow, with a Cruise-In and Car Show beginning at 11 a.m. at Cumberland Auto. The fundraiser will continue with a 3-band show at the Lee Theater, featuring Town Branch Bluegrass, The Britton Family, and Po’ Ramblin’ Boys. The show will beginning at 7 p.m and general admission is $10 per person.

Next week on Thursday, July 2, Lee Theater will host the Lee Players in “Amazing America”-Musical Comedy, a salute to America, military, and local police. The show will begin at 7:30. General admission is $5 and tickets can be bought in advance at Town Hall. An encore performance will be given Friday, July 3 at 7:30, with general admission also at $5.

Hospital Authority Update

The Lee County Hospital Authority Commissioners met with Senator Mark Warner, Senator Tim Kaine, and Congressman Morgan Griffith, along with members of various federal and state agencies yesterday in Washington D.C. The Commissioners hoped to update our leaders in Washington on the status of the re-opening of the Lee County Hospital and to speed up progress. The updates were well received and support for the re-opening of the hospital was strong. More details will follow as they become available.

Jonesville Town Council Meeting

The Jonesville Town Council met in a recessed meeting Monday June 22 to vote on a budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. A unanimous vote approved the budget amounting to $1,666,206 for the general fund for 2015 and $1,777,682 for 2016, including a 2.5% raise for all employees and no tax increase.
The council voted to approve the rezoning of property on Main and Milbourne Streets with a 3 to 2 vote.
Mayor Jim Ewing reported on a new policy regarding prayer at council meetings, which opens the prayer opportunity to speakers of all religious backgrounds and follows a policy of non-discrimination.
The council will meet again Monday, July 6 at 7 p.m.

Meth Lab in Dot

After securing a search warrant on Thursday afternoon, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office discovered a meth lab in the Dot area of Lee County.
According to a press release, Sheriff Gary Parsons reported that Lt. A.J. McQueen secured a search warrant for a residence at 306 Clarence Laws Drive in Pennington Gap. Around 1:30 Sheriff’s officers, assisted by the Virginia State Police Tact Team entered the house and found one active cook in progress, four inactive, and a large amount of chemicals used to cook methamphetamine. Parsons said the residence was occupied by 47 year old Jerry Lynn Laws, 59 year Michael Gene Laws, and 47 year old Joseph Feck. Charges against all three will be sought at a future sitting of the Lee County Grand Jury.

MECC Offering Drone Classes

A $50 thousand grant has allowed Mountain Empire Community College to offer a new course this summer on unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones. MECC is the only community college in the state currently offering such a class. Students of all ages will learn how to build and fly drones, an up and coming industry due to the versatility of unmanned aerial technology. Instructor Fred Coeburn will be teaching students to design, build, maintain, and fly their own drones. This technology can be utilized for everything from emergency or medical supply transportation to remote areas, to farm maintenance.
The class is being offered on Tuesday nights until August and will be offered again in the Fall.
The college hopes to expand the class into a full program.

Wise County Circuit Court Clerk Jack Kennedy wrote a grant proposal to secure a match dollar grant totaling $100,000 to start up the drone industry in Wise County.

On July 15th, international and national law experts will gather in Wise County for a drone and space law conference.
On July 17th, Wise County will partner with NASA and the Remote Area Medical clinic to deliver medication by drone transport during the annual clinic. A NASA plane will land at the Lonesome Pine Runway carrying hundreds of pounds of medication that the drones will then deliver in ten pound packages to doctors and nurses at the clinic.
According to an interview with Kennedy, this will be the first humanitarian delivery of medications by a drone in the U.S.