Duffield inmate found after escaping custody

An inmate at the Duffield Regional Jail escaped custody on Monday after walking away from work release detail at a construction site in Big Stone Gap. Authorities asked for the public's assistance in fiding 38 year old Anthony Dean Craft. He was located and placed back in custody with additional escape charges on Tuesday.

USP Lee inmated pleads guilty to assaulting CO

A federal inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lee County has pleaded guilty to resisting and assaulting a corrections officer.

Darren Wall, 24, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of forcibly assaulting and resisting an officer. The officer was injured in the incident.

A sentencing hearing is set for July 6. Wall faces a sentence between five and eight years.



Jonesville PD arrest woman after firing a gun while in possession of drugs

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Stars and Stripes Charity Run planned for 4th of July

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Students taking SOLs will see shorter math and reading tests

Students taking their Standards of Learning (SOLs) this Spring will now see shorter reading and mathematics tests. In addition, a new version of the commonwealth’s test-delivery system is allowing students to take SOL tests on a wider array of devices, including iPads and Chromebooks.

“This upgrade simplifies the logistics of SOL testing for many schools because principals and testing coordinators don’t have to move hundreds of students through a limited number of computer labs,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples said. “Students can test in their classrooms with devices they’ve used all year. And the ability to assess more students in less time decreases the amount of instructional time lost to testing.”  

While eighth graders and some high school students took SOL writing tests in March, the main spring testing window opens on April 10. Students in the western part of the state typically test in April and May, while students in central and eastern Virginia test in May and June.

The 2016-2017 school year is the third of a four-year phase in of adaptive testing – a format that allows for shorter tests – in grades 3-8. This spring, all math tests in grades 3-8 are computer adaptive (with the exceptions of end-of-course algebra and geometry tests), and adaptive reading tests are being introduced in grades 3-5. The phase in will be complete with the introduction of adaptive reading tests in grades 6-8 during the 2017-2018 school year.

Adaptive tests begin with a question or problem of moderate difficulty. If a student answers the item correctly, the computer selects a slightly more challenging problem as the next item. Conversely, an incorrect response results in the selection of a slightly less difficult item. Students’ scores are determined by the number of questions answered correctly and the relative difficulty of the correctly answered items.

“Adaptive testing allows us to accurately measure proficiency and growth with fewer test items and that means significantly shorter testing times for most students,” Staples said.

The adaptive reading tests that third and fourth graders are taking this spring have 33 items, 14 fewer than the 47-item tests students took last year. The new adaptive fifth-grade reading SOL also has 33 items, 17 fewer than last year’s non-adaptive version.

Also new this year are 39-item adaptive math tests in grades 4-5, which replace the 60-item math SOLs fourth and fifth graders took last year.  

Computer-adaptive SOL testing was first introduced during 2014-2015, with the debut of an adaptive version of the sixth-grade math test. Computer-adaptive versions of the grade-3, grade-7 and grade-8 math tests were introduced in 2015-2016.



Lee Rescue Squad explains why patients cannot be transported to preferred hospitals

The Lee County Rescue Squard has released a statement after questions have been raised as to why they cannot transport patients to preferred hospitals. The statements clarified that in keeping in compliance with National EMS standards and as a result of the unfortunate situation of not having a hospital in our county, they must transport to the closest appropriate facility. This enables EMS units to return back to service areas in a quicker amount of time. Seconds count when lives are at stake making travel time an important factor in hospital choice.

Drug Drop Boxes in Southwest Virginia

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Man wanted in Wise County arrested in Florida

A  man who has been on run from Wise County authorities for nearly four years has been captured in Florida.

Frankie John Smith, 61, was accused of firing a shotgun at a man in 2013. He was apprehended in Miami Thursday by the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Marshals Service in conjunction with the Marshals Service Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Smith is belived to have used a family member’s identification to avoid arrest over the past several years. He was found panhandling when the arrest occurred without incident, after Smith admitted his identity when confronted.

Smith is being charged as a fugitive from justice in the state of Florida and will await extradition back to Virginia to face a charge of attempted murder.

The original incident occurred in August 2013 at a residence on Dotson Creek Road, outside of Wise. 

Smith fired a shotgun at the victim, who was seated inside a car, but the victim was able to get away. Smith has been on the run in hiding since.

Smith, who was listed as one of the county’s most wanted individuals, has a number of previous convictions in Wise County Circuit Court, including felony escape, assault and battery and breaking and entering. The convictions occurred between 1996 and 2001, according to court records.

The county listed Smith as “armed and dangerous” in its most wanted poster.


Bristol Herald Courier

Sheriff’s Deputy arrests two after chase and avoiding being struck by car

A Wednesday afternoon pursuit in the Stickleyville section of Lee County has led to multiple charges against two individuals.

Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons reports that Deputy Roger Gates was traveling in Kane Gap when he observed two vehicles following each other and traveling at a very high reate of speed. Gates then turned on his lights and pursued them onto Kimblerlin Road.

Parsons said that Gates caught the rear car, which stopped. He then identified the driver as 37 year old Sara Taylor Pennington Gap. Gates told her to remain there while he pursued the other vehicle.

The other vehicle, a gray Nissan pickup, turned onto a logging road and that came out on Hippie Hollow Road and then onto Dry Creek Road where it turned into a driveway. Gates then ordered the driver out of the vehicle. The driver then continued on into the yard and made a U-turn, accelerating toward Deputy Gates and his cruiser. Gates dodged the vehicle pulled his firearm and shot out the trucks rear tire.

Parsons said Gates continued to pursue the vehicle until it went onto a logging road where Gates could not follow in his unit. He then continued on foot, when the driver of the Nissan exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Gates followed and caught the driver, placing him under arrest at gunpoint.

The driver of the Nissan was 36 year old Jonathan Paul Ricketts of Duffield. He was charged with felony reckless driving eluding, attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, 3rd offense driving revoked, failure to register a vehicle, and two counts of capias, one from Lee County and one from Wise County. The other driver, Taylor, was charged with reckless driving, driving suspended, and failure to register a vehicle.

Parsons commended Deputy Gates for his persistence in a job well done and bringing the situation to a successful conclusion without injury to himself or others.

Former Lee County school official arrested on child porn charges

A retired Lee County educator was arrested Tuesday night in a case involving child porn.

Robert Edward Widener, Jr., 60, of Ben Hur, Va., is charged with 20 counts of using a communications device to possess child pornography and 20 counts of solicitation of the production of child porn, according to the Lee County Court Clerk's Office.

Commonwealth's Attorney Fuller Cridlin said in a statement that specific details could not be released due to the ongoing investigation. He did say that the allegations are "very disturbing and serious."

Cridlin added that he plans to prosecute the charges aggressively and seek the maximum sentence in the case.

Superintendent of Lee County Public Schools Brian Austin told News 5 that Widener began his career in the system in January 1979 and retired in January 2014.

The Virginia State Police is handling the investigation.

Widener is scheduled to appear in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Thursday morning.