October 16th, 2016
The Virginia Department of Transportation announced Friday that they will change the speed limit on a section of U.S. Route 23/58/421 in the Gate City area of Scott County next month.
New speed limit signs will be installed in November to increase the speed limit from 55 to 60 mph. The changes will affect about 2.5 miles of U.S. Route 23/58/421 from 0.19 miles north of Kane St. to West Jackson St.
This area met the criteria for VDOT to consider a speed limit change as set forth in Senate Bill 408 that was passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2004. This law allows VDOT to conduct engineering studies on limited access roads and consider raising the speed limit up to 70 mph.
VDOT examined the alignment of the road, spacing of interchanges, operating speed and crash history to determine that 60 mph was an acceptable speed limit for this section of road.
The agency coordinated with Virginia State Police and local officials before the speed limit changes were finalized.
October 13th, 2016
A Coeburn man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty under the Alford rule to attempted second degree murder, grand larceny of a firearm, attempting to purchase a firearm after being convicted of a felony, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, and shooting at an occupied vehicle.
An Alford plea is when a defendant pleads guilty without making an admission of guilt.
Wesley Aaron Wayne Campbell, 20, appeared Thursday in Wise County Circuit Court on multiple charges stemming from incidents that occurred in early 2015 and February 2016.
Campbell was sentenced 50 years in prison with 35 years suspended, meaning that Campbell will spend 15 years in prison. The suspended sentence is conditioned on successful completion of 15 years supervised probation.
In January 2015, a pistol was reported stolen from a garage near Coeburn where Campbell had visited earlier the same day. Campbell confessed that he took the gun intending to sell it to make money.
In February 2016, Campbell attempted to buy an AR-15 and had previously been found guilty or adjudicated delinquent of a felony charge as a juvenile.
Later that same date, multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a call of the driver of a vehicle shooting out the window at another vehicle on US-23 southbound near the Wise County/City of Norton border. Norton police located the vehicle and found Campbell inside. Police found weapons and ammunition in Campbell’s possession, including a sawed-off shotgun.
October 13th, 2016
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is announcing a series of budget measures that includes canceling pay raises, trimming the state's payroll, and using the state's rainy day fund.
McAuliffe announced the measures Thursday at the Capitol and says there may me more difficult decisions to come.
The state is facing a potential $1.5 billion budget shortfall due to lower-than-expected income and sales tax collections. To address the shortfall, McAuliffe is making cuts throughout state government, including delaying grant payments and new hires and eliminating 26 current positions.
McAuliffe, a Democrat, has also indicated he'll try to convince the GOP-led General Assembly to approve expanding Medicaid, which he said would help alleviate budget problems. Republicans are unlikely to approve such a proposal.
October 12th, 2016
Lee County tax tickets will be sent out Friday, October 14 for Real Estate and Property taxes. All taxes must be postmarked by December 5 or paid at the Treasurer's Office by 4:30 to avoid late fees.
Taxes can also be paid with tax ticket at any Lee Bank location.
Pay by mail to Lee County Treasurer, PO Box 70 Jonesville, Va 24263
All taxes must be included in one check payable to Lee County Treasurer.
Payment can be made by phone at 1-866-789-3527 or online at https://ipn.paymentus.com/opt/stde/lcv
If paying by credit/debit or by phone, a 2.75 percent charge of the total taxes is assessed.
October 12th, 2016
The Lee County IDA voted last week to take legal action against Synergy Biofuels to vacate property and collect any unpaid balance if the company has not paid the account by October 19.
Jeff Cochran, Engineer with The Lane Group, said the disign of the preliminary engineering report for the Constitutional Oaks Industrial Park is awaiting information from VDOT. Lee County Administrator Dane Poe said steps were taken to extend a Tobacco Commission Grant for the PER to September of next year, as it was scheduled to expire in December.
The IDA will meet again on Thursday, November 3 at 6 p.m.
October 11th, 2016
Following its award-winning performance at the Universal Cheerleaders Association camp over the summer, the squad was invited to perform at the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 31.
Kalena Williams, who is in her second year of coaching the team, said the girls weren’t confident in their abilities when she took over the program last year.
Williams decided the girls had gained enough confidence to go to the UCA cheerleading camp over the summer.
A competition was held at the end of the camp with the trophy winners receiving invitations to perform at the Citrus Bowl. The girls decided to compete and won the trophy for best band dance performance, earning them an invitation.
Twelve squad members are currently planning to make the trip to Orlando, though the team must raise around $14,000 by the first week of November to make the trip a reality.
Williams said the team is actively fundraising to meet this goal and has raised $4,000 so far, but they still have a long way to go.
Participating squad members will travel to Orlando for a week of rehearsals that will prepare them for their pre-game performance. As one of the most-watched bowl games in college football, the Citrus Bowl will allow the cheerleaders to showcase their talents in front of thousands of people.
Williams said she hopes performing in the Citrus Bowl will teach her squad members that with a little hard work and effort, great things can happen, and anything is possible.
Those interested in helping the team reach its fundraising goal can make a donation online on the team’s GoFundMe webpage. In-person donations are also being accepted in the main office of the school, located at 200 General Lane, in Pennington Gap, Va.
October 11th, 2016
An inmate at the United States Federal Penitentiary in Lee County, Virginia (USP Lee) admitted Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to conspiring with others to bring illegal drugs into the prison, according to U.S. Attorney John P. Fishwick Jr.
Jermaine Calvin Jeffries, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with others to provide methamphetamine to other inmates. He will be sentenced on January 11, 2017 and faces up to five additional years in prison.
Jeffries conspired with others to provide inmates inside the prison with meth, Suboxone, and marijuana. They used phone calls to arrange transportation of the meth and the attempted transportation of the drug from outside the prison to the inmates.
October 10th, 2016
A Hawaiin man serving a life sentence without parole at USP Lee has taken to social media in an attempt to gain his freedom via a pardon from President Barack Obama. Ethan Keliihoomalu “Malu” Motta, 47, was incarcerated for a violent underworld clash on Oahu over control of illegal gambling that left two men dead of gunshot wounds and another man critically injured. He was convicted in 2009 on two counts of committing murder in support of criminal racketeering, which carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole, after a monthlong jury trial in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
As of midday Saturday, 777 people had signed an online petition at Change.org titled “Clemency Consideration for Malu Motta.” The petition, which was posted Sept. 22, is designed to be shared on Facebook.
He and two accomplices shot and killed two men in January of 2004, during a meeting between rival underworld factions in the parking lot of the Pali Golf Course.
Some who signed the petition say they don't agree with media accounts of Motta as a statewide crime boss and murderer, comparing him instead to Robin Hood.
In addition, Motta filed an appeal in June in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A previous appeal was denied in 2013.
Hawaii Tribune Herald
October 10th, 2016
Police have released the name of the victim of a crash in Scott County over the weekend.
VSP Senior Trooper M.S. Brown responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 600 at Route 753 on Saturday at 10:13 a.m.
According to a VSP press release, a 1996 Honda Accord traveling along Route 600 came into a curve and ran off the right side of the road and struck an embankment.
The driver, April L. Sloan O’Quinn, 27, of Duffield, was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected from the vehicle. She died at the scene, according to the release.
A male passenger was flown to Holston Valley Medical Center for treatment of life-threatening injuries.