Lee County Board of Supervisors Meeting May 21st

Lee County Board of Supervisors will hold their next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday evening, May 21st at 6pm, in the General District Courtroom in the Lee County Courthouse in Jonesville.

Samantha Brooks age 47 Arrested on Multiple Charges

A traffic stop last week in the Rose Hill section of Lee County has resulted in the arrest of one individual and the seizure of illegal drugs. Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons, reports that Deputy Jeff Smith was patrolling when he observed Samantha Brooks operating a vehicle. Deputy Smith had personal knowledge that Brooks was unlicensed.
Parsons reports that Deputy Smith stopped the vehicle and observed Brooks to appear under the influence. Brooks admitted to Deputy Smith that she had taken narcotics and smoked marijuana. She was then placed under arrest for Driving Under the Influence.
Parsons said that a Search Warrant to Arrest revealed Methamphetamine, Marijuana, three narcotic pills, two smoking pipes and needles.
According to Parsons, Brooks, age 47 of Rosehill, Virgina was charged with Driving Under the Influence, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Schedule 4 Narcotic, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and refusal to take a blood test. Brooks is being held in Duffield Regional Jail without bond.

Gathering in the Gap Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park and Big Stone Gap are hosting the Gathering in the Gap on Saturday, May 25th from 10-10pm on the grounds of the museum. This year’s event will feature Tim O’Brien Band with Tony Trischka, Love Canon, Cellogram featuring Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer, and Holler Jake among numerous other acts. There will also be numerous arts and crafts displays, along with plenty of food and drink available.
This day long music festival is the place to see local craft and food vendors, instrumental as well as songwriting competitions, and other regional artists. Including your local favorites, Town Branch Bluegrass and the Wise JAMS Program. The Shoestring Theatre Company is once again planning to be a part of this years festival.
Daytime admission is free and evening performances held close to the museum’s rails car have a ticket price of $15 per person. Children twelve and under are admitted free in the company of an adult. For additional information on this year’s event visit www.gatheringinthegap.org.
Remember to get your tickets to win the big Quilt Giveaway made from Gathering in the Gap tshirts. Cost is $2 per ticket or $10 for six tickets. All donations benefit the Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park. The drawing for the winner will  be on the main stage of the Gathering in the Gap Music Festival on Saturday, May 25th, 2019. You don't even have to be present to win but why wouldn't you wanna be! For more information or to purchase tickets please visit www.swvamuseum.or or www.gatheringinthegap.org. or ask a member of the Friends of the Southwest Virginia Museum.

Leon Tyler Smith Pleads Guilty to First Degree Murder

According to Lee County Commonwealth Attorney H. Fuller Cridlin’s latest Press Release, Leon Tyler Smith, age 25, pled guilty to First Degree Murder in Circuit Court before Judge Tammy McElyea in the death of Lee David Lipps.
In the original criminal complaint filed by Virginia State Police Special Agent AW Boyd, Lipps stated before dying that a black man had shot him while he was in his backyard at his residence. Agent Boyd reported that a surveillance system at Lipp’s residence captured video of a gold Toyota Sedan driving nearby. Additionally two witnesses in the neighborhood told officials that they had seen a black man wearing a black and gold shirt near the victim’s home.
Norton police later found a Toyota Sedan matching the one shown in the video and arrested Smith as he approached the vehicle. In a warrant search of Smith’s residence, investigators found a shirt that matched the witnesses’ description along with a .380 caliber ammunition shells that matched shells found at the scene of the crime.
Testimony from witnesses placed a black man near Lipps’ residence between 7:25 and 7:29 pm. Agent Boyd’s report stated that surveillance video from the Jonesville Walmart placed Smith about five miles from Lipps’ home at 7:13pm that day. Lipps called 911 at 7:28pm, while his home surveillance system captured video of the gold Toyota Sedan driving and parking in an adjacent lot at 7:24pm.
Cridlin stated that the First Degree charge carries a maximum life sentence in prison, while state sentencing guidelines can for a range of 20-40 years sentence. Cridlin added that, “Those are the guidelines but the judge can choose a longer sentence. We will be asking for the maximum.”
There is a two day sentencing hearing set for September 18th & 19th in the Jonesville Circuit Court.

Norton Man Convicted of Domestic Violence Offenses

According to the latest Press Release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County and the City of Norton Charles H. Slemp III; Tyler Donnell Justiano, age 23 of Norton was convicted last week in the Wise County Circuit Court of Assault & Battery of a Family/Household Member, Strangulation, and Probation Violations. Justiano pled guilty without a plea agreement from prosecutors; meaning a judge will determine his sentence after listening to the testimony of witnesses from prosecutors and the defendant at a sentencing hearing.
On February 28, 2019, Justiano was dropped off by a friend at the victim’s workplace where he waited at the victim’s vehicle for her. Leaving work, the victim went to her car and she was surprised to find Justiano there. As she tried to leave, Justiano got into the car where he grabbed her, struck her, pulled her hair, and wrapped his arms around her neck. Bystanders heard the victim screaming, observed the incident and called 911. Deputies from the Wise County Sheriff’s Office responded quickly to the scene, witnessed the attack in progress, and removed the victim from danger.
Justiano was on active supervised felony probation in the Wise County Circuit Court at the time of the incident for 2016 convictions of Breaking and Entering, Assault and Battery, and Distribution of Marijuana within 1000 Feet of a School.
Commonwealth Attorney Chuck Slemp said, “The victim in this case endured a terrifying attack. We are so grateful for the brave, decisive actions of the bystanders who witnessed the attack and immediately called for help. I also want to thank the Wise County Sheriff’s Department Deputies who responded quickly and helped make these convictions possible.”
Sentencing in the case is scheduled for June 21, 2019 at 9:00 am in the Wise County Circuit Court. Justiano faces a total maximum penalty of six years in prison.

Virginia Indigent Defense Commission Pilot Program

On any given day, half of defendants fail to appear for their court proceedings has courts around the country utilizing text messaging services to remind people to show up for court. Failure to appear defendants cost tax payers time and money and may also cost defendants their freedom. Using text reminders is just part of the larger effort to reform bail and other areas of the criminal justice system for individuals charged but not yet convicted of a crime.
Already being used in more than a dozen states by Public Defenders and Court Administrators, many claim that the reminders are a big help to all involved. The Virginia Indigent Defense Commission used a grant to start a pilot program in Richmond and Petersburg, contracted with a San Francisco based company called Uptrust.
Uptrust’s software accesses the names, cellphone numbers and court dates, along with other information to track cases. They then send a series of reminders for each defendant, usually ten days, one week and the day before their scheduled hearing. The cost for this service is initially $10,000 to $20,000, and an additional $2 fee for each defendant that receives text reminders. To date, Failure to Appear warrants have dropped from 26% to as much as 51.9% since implementing the text reminder system in as little as 90 days.

104th Annual Virginia High School Leaques Event

Locally in the news students from Gate City are representing our region well at the state level. Recently recognized by the Scott County Board of Supervisors were students Trevor Meade and Andrew Mathes who won first place in the Serious Duo Interpretation of the state forensics competition.
This year marked the 104th annual competition for the Virginia High School Leaques event that was held at Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County. Competitors were judged on organization, eye contact, physical and vocal characterization, energy and impact among other factors. Other top students included Loren Vermillion who came in third in her category, Ollie Hall and Kallie Berry placed fourth in their category.

Wise County’s 2019 Real Estate Taxes Due May 31st

Locally in the news is a reminder for Wise County residents that the deadline to pay the first half of Wise County’s 2019 Real Estate taxes is May 31st. After that date, penalties will be added to any taxes that have not already been paid. The cost of the penalty is 10% or $2, whichever is greater, however, please note the penalty shall not exceed the amount of the original tax. In addition to that, an additional 5% interest per year will be charged beginning on June 1st 2019.
For your convenience your payments can be mailed to the;
Wise County Treasurer
PO Box 1308
Wise, Va 24293
You may also pay in person at the Wise County Treasurer’s Office Monday through Friday during normal business hours. You may also use the convenient drop off box located near the parking garage entrance at the back of the courthouse.
Citizens may also take advantage of the added convenience of paying current taxes at the First Bank & Trust in Wise and Norton. Miners Exchange Banks in Appalachia, St. Paul, Norton and Wise, New People’s Bank in Big Stone Gap, Esserville and Pound. At the Powell Valley National Banks in Big Stone Gap and Wise.
Additionally taxpayers may also be paid online by credit or debit card through www.webfeepay.com. Please note than a convenience fee of 2.75% will be charged by the card provider. Taxpayers may also phone the Wise County Treasurer’s Office and pay with check by phone. Note that there will be a $3 convenience fee charged by the provider for this service.
For questions and address changes regarding the assessment of your property, please contact the Commissioner of Revenue Office at 276-328-3556 or 276-328-3557. Questions regarding payments of the lack of a tax ticket for property owned, please direct inquiries to the Treasurer’s Office at 276-328-4077.

Carbon Research and Development Company of Wise

Locally in the news over in Wise County, a relatively new research center is looking to become the graphene hub of America. Graphene is the version of carbon that is the strongest material currently known to exist. Often hyped as a wonder material, it’s a substance that may possibly transform the electronics industry and be put to other creative uses. Currently production obstacles concerning making it both a low cost substance and also developing uses that will be affordable have been a major obstacle.
Carbon Research and Development Company is seeking to resolve these issues at their Graphene Research Center in Wise County. Last year the research center moved into a 24,000 square foot building in the Lonesome Pine Regional Business and Technology Park. The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority granted a $1.5 million loan for laboratory equipment and other improvements towards the testing of potential graphene uses.
Scientists discovered this wonder material more than a decade past, and two physicists from the University of Manchester in England were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work with graphene. The Graphene Research Center has already been approached by companies for various possibilities including a glass company that with a thin coating of graphene would eliminate damage.
The Graphene Research Center is currently working with Virginia Tech studying the market viability for coal-derived graphene and southwest Virginia’s potential to be part of that market. GO Virginia has already approved $25,000 worth of funding for the study. While coal is an inexpensive and abundant source of graphene, not enough coal is used in the production of graphene to revive the laboring coal industry.
Graphene is 22x stronger than steel and yet so thin that a million layers of it would be as thick as saran wrap. This translates to a single gram of the substance has the ability to cover more than an acre of land. In addition to be the most pliable, it also conducts heat and electricity better than any other material to date. Potentially it could be used to make super long lasting batteries or amazingly durable smartphones that could be as thin as a sheet of paper.

Lee County Sheriff’s Dept Stats April 2019

Lee County Sheriff's Office Monthly Activity Report for April 2019
Total calls received by Dispatch: 5,220
Total calls received that Deputies responded to: 1,152
There were 493 calls dispatched to other agencies.
There were 272 Rescue Squad calls and 11 Ambulance calls.
There were 63 Fire Department calls dispatched.
Deputies escorted 12 Funerals.
60 vehicles were unlocked for citizens.
Deputies served 104 Felony and Misdemeanor Warrants and processed 76 people on 101 charges.
Deputies served 198 Subpoenas, 33 Show Cause Summons, 36 Protective Orders and 282 various civil papers for the three Lee County courts.
4 Search Warrants were executed.
Deputies traveled a total of 72,406 miles with 3,136 miles being on transports.
Deputies transported 9 juveniles, 7 mental health patients and 3 prisoners from other jurisdictions.
Inmates from the Duffield Regional Jail, along with Deputies picked up 1,167 bags of trash from Lee County roadways.
Lee County Reserve Officers worked 88 hours for the community last month.