New bill would allow hunters to wear pink safety gear instead of orange

The House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill allowing hunters to wear blaze pink instead of blaze orange hunting apparel.

They say the pink is proven to be more visible. The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration.

For safety reasons, Virginia requires hunters to wear blaze orange during deer hunting season – so they’ll stand out and not get shot by another hunter accidentally.

Some believe the color option will draw more women to hunting. About 13,000 women currently are registered to hunt in Virginia.

Governor McAuliffe Announces New Series to Prepare Students for Higher Education and Managing Debt

Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced a new series for middle and high school teachers and counselors that will support Virginia’s students as they plan to obtain a post-secondary degree or credential. Life After High School: Navigating education, career and debt was developed in partnership with the Virginia Council on Economic Education (VCEE), its affiliated university-based Centers for Economic Education, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The program is provided at no charge to Virginia teachers or school divisions through support from the Fund for Teaching Excellence.

Pilot sessions of the new series were launched in the fall and reached over 100 middle and high school teachers and counselors. With 110 additional educators set to participate this Spring, the program expects to collectively reach an estimated 36,000 students by the end of the school year.

Teachers, counselors and school divisions interested in learning more about this new series and registering can visit the website here

Archeologists find Native American sites during Greenway construction in Pennington Gap

Archaeologists have uncovered Native American sites they say are up to 10,000 years old in Pennington Gap during the construction of the town biking trail.

Middle school students were invited to the site on Wednesday to take part in the historic event.

During the construction of a two-and-a-half mile biking and walking trail through town, officials began to find evidence of historical land dating back from 8000 B.C. to about 1000 A.D.

TVA currently has archaeologists sorting through the sites were nearly a dozen firepits were found in one location.

TVA is required by federal law to preserve cultural heritage during construction projects. They are now working with Native American tribes across the country to inform them of the findings.

Archaeologists have been on site in since Monday and expect to finish up this weekend. Their findings will require months of lab research.

Construction for the Greenway Trail is expected to resume in August.

Wise Judge denies petition for two felons’ restoration of rights to possess firearms

Wise County Circuit Court Judge Chadwick Dotson has denied two convicted felons’ petitions seeking to have their right to possess firearms restored.

On Monday,Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said Judge Dotson issued orders denying both petitions. Slemp also opposed the requests that came about after Governor Terry McAuliffe's restoration of civil rights to convicted felons statewide last year. One man was convicted in 1998 of aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties against a child by a custodian. The other petition was by a woman convicted in 1988 of unlawful shooting at an occupied dwelling. Slemp cited public safety risks and concerns that the governor’s restoration of civil rights did not offer sufficient individual scrutiny.

In his rulings denying the two Wise County petitions, Dotson determined that “under the circumstances that exist in the present case, the court finds very little that would distinguish this matter from the blanket restoration deemed unconstitutional” by the Virginia Supreme Court.

VA State Parks hiring for summer season

Virginia State Parks is hanging out the “Help Wanted” sign for everyone from high school students to senior citizens.

Seasonal positions – from lifeguards and snack bar workers to contact rangers and housekeepers – are available in all 37 state parks, which are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

“Seasonal employees are the backbone of our operations and allow us to provide a wealth of outdoor recreational and programming experiences for our guests,” said State Parks Director Craig Seaver. “A state park seasonal position is a great way to enhance job experience in a variety of unique outdoor related locations and facilties.”

Virginia State Parks will host more than 5 million visitors between Memorial Day and Labor Day and fill about 1,000 seasonal positions to support them.

Many seasonal park employees spend significant time working outdoors. Employees receive customer service training in addition to job-specific training.

A list of available positions can be found here:

Pair arrested in Gate City on drug charges, child endangerment

Scott County police have arrested two people on drug and child abuse charges for allegedly doing methamphetamine around a toddler and a newborn.

On Jan. 24, officer Steve Smith with the Scott County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Bethany Street in Gate City for a welfare check.

When he arrived, he spotted a smoking pipe commonly used to smoke crystal meth lying in plain view around two young children, aged three weeks and 2-years-old.

Smith obtained written consent from the lease holder to search the home, where he found Kayla Barnes, 22, of Kingsport, and Samuel Pressley, 31, of Georgia.

In a back bathroom, Smith located a small baggie of a crystal-like substance that tested positive for meth, as well as other paraphernalia.

Barnes allegedly admitted to the officer she had smoked meth earlier in the day. Smith stated in his report he also found pieces of a pill in Barnes' belongings that Barnes claimed was Subutex.

Barnes and Pressley are the mother and father to the children found in the home.

Both were arrested and charged with possession of schedule II drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia and child endangerment. Barnes picked up an additional charge of possession of schedule III drugs for the pill found in her belongings.

They were both taken to the Duffield Regional Jail, where Pressley was interviewed the next day. During the interview, officer Clint Johnson witnessed a small plastic baggie fall out of Pressley's jacket pocket.

The baggie was seized and allegedly containted methamphetamine. Pressley picked up additional charges of possession of schedule II drugs and unlawful possession by a prisoner.


Local musician donates nearly $4200 to domestic violence victims

Lee County native Taylor Ray Holbrook made a generous donation to the Lee County Sheriff's Office for victims of domestic violence. Holbrook has been working hard as an independent country artist, living in Nashville for the last year. His donation came from proceeds from a song he released in October, titled "These Hands". The song is available on iTunes, Spotify, pandora, and Google Play amongst other streaming services.

Holbrook said he and two other writers wrote the song about a girl he knew who had been the victim of domestic violence. Fans from all over the world supported the worthy cause. Holbrook donated 50℅ of the songs' proceeds, which came out to nearly $4,200.

The county has seen an increase in domestic violence in recent years. Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons said the money will help domestic violence victims directly.

WCSO Weekly Activity Report


February 2, 2017

The Wise County Sheriff’s Office reports the following activities for the period of 01/23/2017 through 01/29/2017.

Wise Central Dispatch received a total of 1,446 calls for this seven-day period.
Of the total calls received 283 were dispatched to the Sheriff’s Office
Total number of Domestic calls for this period was 3.
Criminal Process for this period: Served 18 Felony Warrants, 28 Misdemeanor Warrants, 1 DUI Arrest.
Civil Process Served: 551 Civil Papers
Traffic Accidents: 4
8 Additional Criminal Investigations were initiated and 20 Cleared by Arrest.
Sheriff’s Office provided 256 man-hours of Court Room Security.
Unlocked Vehicles: 10
Escorted Funerals: 6

The Sheriff’s Office Total Transport for this period: 7
Total Transport Hours: 43.5

2,178 Visitors to Courthouse

Wise County Sheriff takes delivery of body cams for officers

Wise County Sheriff’s Office Deputies will now be equipped with body worn cameras thanks to one Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles grant and two grants from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services that the sheriff’s office has received. These grants provided funds to purchase cameras for deputies assigned to patrol, school resource, civil process, criminal investigations, and court house security. Full implementation of the body worn camera program is expected to be completed by February 2017.

Sheriff Oakes states, “My deputies are expected to be complete professionals at all times. These cameras will help protect them from any false complaints, and the video captured will also help in the prosecution of cases. Wise County Deputies assigned to the patrol division have utilized in-car cameras systems for years and will continue to do so. These body cameras will work in conjunction with the in-car camera.”

Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp states, "We are excited by this announcement. The evidence preserved by officer body worn cameras provide us a great tool in the courtroom in prosecuting crime and maintains transparency for the public good. This move helps show everyone the great job that law enforcement does on a daily basis to keep us safe from crime. I am thankful for the leadership of Sheriff Oakes and his team in securing grant funds to implement this program."

Wise man pleads guilty to soliciting a minor for sex

A Wise County man pleaded guilty on Monday to soliciting a minor for sex during a hearing in Circuit Court.

Stormy Chance Dotson, 24, of Pound was indicted in November on six counts of using an electronic communication device to propose a sex act with a minor child under the age of 15. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said, “The internet continues to be an amazing tool to expand our knowledge and share information. However, social media and online instant messaging websites can also be a danger to young people. We hope that this case will raise awareness of the need for parents in our region to take steps to protect their children online.”

Dotson will be sentenced on March 30.