The Southwest Virginia Health Authority meeting is on May 25 at 3 p.m. at the Higher Education Center in Abingdon. The Lee County Hospital Authority is hoping for a big turnout from the Lee County community to help demonstrate the need to reopen the lee county hospital. If you are in need of transportation for this meeting, please contact 346-2363. The Farm Bureau Agency will be providing transportation. They will leave at noon.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Sunoco Station / Carwash 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Super-maximum security prison Red Onion State Prison will be the setting of a new HBO documentary film about solitary confinement.
“Solitary,” is a new film by Emmy Award-winning director Kristi Jacobson, recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and will air later this year on HBO.
Jacobson said the crew spent many days shooting inside the prison over the course of the year. The 80-minute documentary was filmed on location at the Wise County prison beginning in 2013.
“Once inside the prison, the warden provided our crew with an opportunity, access to the inmates, to the place, to the men and women who work there,” Jacobson said.
The film crew had the rare opportunity to see the inside of the prison, which is one of about 40 super-maximum security prisons in the country. It houses about 800 prisoners, including what the Washington Post described as the “worst of the worst.” Beltway sniper Lee Boyd Malvo and convicted murderer Jesse Matthew, who kidnapped and killed two Virginia college students, are incarcerated at Red Onion.
Jacobson and the Virginia Department of Corrections director first spoke about the possibility of documenting the step-down program, which kicked off at Red Onion. The program allows successful inmates to move out of maximum security.
“I don’t know the date, but it was right around the time of Ms. Jacobson’s successful, ‘A Place at the Table’ film,” DOC spokeswoman Lisa Kinney said. “The director and the secretary of public safety decided to allow Ms. Jacobson access to the facility.”
The inmates and staff spoke to Jacobson completely unscripted.
“The last thing someone in prison wants is someone asking immediately, ‘What did you do to get here,’” Jacobson said. “And so we made an effort to meet people and get to know them, as much as is possible inside a supermax. Some, like Randall, were dynamic storytellers. And each of the inmates so clearly craved the opportunity to have a face to face conversation. How we came to know them is the same as how you come to know them in the film as well. I only found later how they got there, or what their street crimes were.”
The documentary opens with Randall, an Earlysville, Virginia man convicted of murder, who is serving life in prison. During the film, viewers learn what it’s like to be in solitary confinement and how the prisoners, like Randall, made it there.
“All I’ve ever known was violence, you know,” Randall said. “It, it wasn’t the solution to the problem, it was just life.”
The prisoners, who are only identified by their first names, speak about wanting to see their families, communicating with other prisoners and the judicial and incarceration system.
“Segregation is tricky on the inmate,” said Lars, of Hagerstown, Maryland. “Because if the inmate is not careful, they adapt to it. And they start becoming antisocial, they become crazy, they can lose their mind. Ask yourself, can you live in a bathroom for 10 years?”
During filming, the prisoners were shackled and handcuffed to tables as they spoke to Jacobson about their experiences. Armed guards stood nearby. Several guards are also interviewed during the documentary.
Throughout the film, the sounds and sights of Red Onion come alive. All of the commotion, crying and shouting that are expected in prison can be heard.
“In prison, it’s like filming on a movie set,” Jacobson said. “The routine provided us an opportunity to really spend time and energy on framing and composition, on creating a visual language and shots that would bring the audience as close to being inside as possible. Our crew was so small, we worked together closely. We all came to know the place and how it breathes.”
The documentary is not meant to be a comprehensive report on solitary confinement, Jacobson said.
“I hope it is much more than that, a powerful and moving exploration of our punitive penal criminal justice society, and what it means to be human, and a part of humankind,” she added.
Mountain Empire Community College will host an information session for individuals and family members who have been laid-off due to mining and mining-related industry labor reductions.
The session will be held Tuesday, May 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at MECC’s Dalton Cantrell Hall. Dislocated workers may qualify for free educational training supported by Mountain Empire Community College, the POWER-RESOURCE FULL National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG) Project, the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), and the Southwest Virginia Workforce Development Board. MECC will offer two training opportunities this summer in welding and 3-D design for individuals who qualify for WIOA funds.
Those interested in applying should bring their lay-off or closure letter to the information session. For more information, visit www.mecc.edu/power or call 276.523.2400 ext. 431.
Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System continue working with officials in Tennessee and Virginia promoting a proposed merger they hope will be approved later this year.
Officials said last week that they expect to fulfill a Tennessee Department of Health request for additional information regarding their proposed merger through that state’s Certificate of Public Advantage process. They are also working on a matching application filed with the Southwest Virginia Health Authority.
“The Southwest Virginia Health Authority is meeting on a regular basis, both as a full group and some subcommittees,” said Anthony Keck, Mountain States’ senior vice president and chief development officer. “The process in Virginia is two-phase where the local Southwest Health Authority is reviewing our application. They will then make a recommendation to the commissioner of health in Virginia, who will do their own analysis."
Access to care is a significant concern for mostly rural Southwest Virginia, especially in light of the previous closing of Lee County Hospital in Pennington Gap, Delegate Terry Kilgore said.
The authority board’s next scheduled meeting is May 25, but it likely won’t act on the application.
Under the Virginia law, the authority will consider public comments after it completes its initial review.
“The two organizations, outside of the application, are doing a lot of internal planning to get ready for a merger this fall,” Keck said. “We have about 17 different functional teams that are organized according to clinical services, human resources, IT and so on, that have all started meeting. They’re made up of executives, clinicians in the organizations and trying to do as much planning as we’re allowed to do before the merger so we can plan what our new IT systems will look like, what our new HR systems will look like, how we’ll combine our financial system. It’s important to do as much pre-work as possible and everyone is encouraged about how that work is progressing right now.”
Carlie Trent, the 9-year-old Tennessee girl who was allegedly kidnapped by her uncle last week, has been found, police said Thursday.
The uncle, 57-year-old Gary Simpson, is in police custody according to Josh Devine, a spokesman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
The two were found in a remote area of Hawkins County Thursday close to Highway 70 near the Hancock County border.
Cops had been looking for the pair since May 4, when Simpson, an uncle by marriage, picked the girl up from an elementary school in Rogersville.
Simpson previously had custody of Carlie and her younger sister, but they had since been returned to the biological father, James Trent.
Local residents spotted them and called 911 and held them.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said during a news conference that TBI would be working closely with District Attorney Dan Armstrong to prosecute Simpson to the fullest extent of the law.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office says 80 percent of more than 200,000 convicted felons whose voting and other civil rights he recently restored were convicted of nonviolent crimes.
An analysis of these felons also shows that African-Americans accounted for 46 percent, while blacks make up only 19 percent of the state's population.
McAuliffe issued a sweeping order last month restoring the rights of felons who have completed their prison and parole sentences to vote, sit on juries and run for office.
WEEKLY PRESS RELEASE
May 12, 2016
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office reports the following activities for the period of 05/02/2016 through 05/08/2016.
Wise Central Dispatch received a total of 1,619 calls for this seven-day period.
Of the total calls received 316 were dispatched to the Sheriff’s Office
Total number of Domestic calls for this period was 6.
Criminal Process for this period: Served 31 Felony Warrants, 35 Misdemeanor Warrants, 0 DUI Arrests.
Civil Process Served: 477 Civil Papers
Traffic Accidents: 10
13 Additional Criminal Investigations were initiated and 18 Cleared by Arrest.
Sheriff’s Office provided 344.5 man-hours of Court Room Security.
Unlocked Vehicles: 15
Escorted Funerals: 2
The Sheriff’s Office Total Transport for this period: 4
Total Transport Hours: 14.25
2,941 Visitors to Courthouse.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday more than a half million dollars in urgent need funding to repair homes damaged by heavy snow last winter in Coeburn.
McAuliffe says Coeburn will receive $534,000 in Community Development Block Grant Urgent Need Program funding.
It is to be used to rehabilitate 10 homes and provide reconstruction of an additional five that were significantly damaged.
The governor also announced $165,000 in community development funding to install new sewer lines in the Eisenhower Road area of Wise County.
That will alleviate the community relying on an aging septic system.
The rainy weather didn't stop Lee High students from their prom held Saturday night. Corey Stewart and Haley Bryson were crowned Prom King and Queen at Lee Prom 2016. But the special moment was followed by an even more momentous occasion. Corey proposed to Haley and she said yes.
photo courtesy of TimesNews