Warner, Gillespie trade jabs in 1st Senate debate

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie had a heated exchange over women’s health issues Saturday during their first debate, with Warner accusing Gillespie of wanting to “ban certain forms of common contraception.”

“This is an issue where you’re making up my views,” Gillespie said, who added that he thinks birth control pills should be available without a prescription. “I believe actually we should make contraceptives easier to obtain.”

The two candidates then spoke over each other as Warner accused Gillespie of supporting so-called “personhood” legislation, which would outlaw virtually all abortions by extending the full legal protections to a fetus from at conception. Gillespie said he has never supported such legislation.

The exchange punctuated a 90-minute debate that focused on which candidate has been more partisan while cycling through a range of issues, including immigration, energy, the federal budget, and foreign policy.

Warner blasted the former Republican National Committee chairman for his past lobbying clients, including the scandal-plagued energy company Enron, and said Gillespie would contribute to continued congressional gridlock.

“The last thing Washington needs is a partisan warrior,” Warner said.

Gillespie charged Warner, a former Virginia governor, of being a “blank check” for the Obama administration who has not lived up to his bipartisan rhetoric.

“Gov. Warner wouldn’t recognize Sen. Warner today,” Gillespie said.

Warner said he has frequently “taken arrows” from both the left and the right, and noted that he was endorsed by former Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner. The two are not related.

Gillespie said his time as a political operative and a lobbyist would allow him to stand up to special interest groups.

The two carved out clear policy differences. Warner said he fully supports the Export-Import Bank, which has emerged as a flashpoint in the internal Republican struggle between the business-backed establishment and tea party groups. Gillespie, who has several ties to the business backers of the bank, does not.

Warner also expressed support for same sex-marriage, which Gillespie opposes.

When asked about Gillespie’s views on birth control after the debate, Warner told reporters that he was referencing the Republican party’s platform while Gillespie was RNC chairman.

The debate took place in front a few hundred Virginia lawyers at the exclusive Greenbrier hotel resort in West Virginia, where the Virginia Bar Association held its annual retreat.

The two multi-millionaires from northern Virginia both opened by touting their humble origins, noting they were the first in their family to attend college.

Warner made his fortune as a cellphone pioneer and is one of the richest members of Congress. Gillespie worked as an aide to former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and was part of the GOP’s conservative “Contract with America” congressional movement in the 1990s. He later worked as a lobbyist and consultant for several Fortune 500 companies, and was an adviser to President George W. Bush.

Warner, who raised nearly $5.4 million in the first six months of this year compared with $4.2 million by Gillespie, is considered the front-runner.

But Republicans are hoping President Barack Obama’s sagging popularity will help them gain a seat in the Senate. The GOP needs six seats to grab control of the chamber.

Gillespie sought to connect Warner to Obama throughout the debate, particularly on the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration’s policy on coal.

The Virginia contest has so far failed to draw many headlines, thanks to Warner’s sizeable lead in polls. Washington-based groups that have poured money into competitive Senate races around the country have stayed out of Virginia.

Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was not invited to the debate.

Mariners Emerge Victorious in Pitchers’ Duel

Daniel Missaki, Jarrett Brown, and Trey Cochran-Gill combine for one run


Media Intern

Still in the wake from last night’s offensive exhibition, the Pulaski Mariners (19-16) and the Princeton Rays (18-17) regrouped for the second game of their three game series.

The flow of Saturday night’s game turned around by a full 180 degrees, and the pitchers shined the brightest. Led by Daniel Missaki (4-0, 1.33 ERA) the Mariners took a close game from Princeton 2-1.

Missaki started the game and pitched five strong innings of one-run ball. Still working his way back to peak form, Missaki issued two walks and allowed his first home run ball of the year.

The Mariners opened the scoring in the bottom of the third. Arby Fields led off the inning with a hard-hit single off Riley Unroe’s glove. Gianfranco Wawoe put down the perfect bunt to move Fields over by 90 feet. Then, on the next pitch, Estarlyn Morales cranked a no-doubter well over the left field wall to give Pulaski the two-run advantage.

Princeton wasted no time in pushing a run across as they struck for one in the top of the fourth. Nic Wilson singled off Missaki to begin the frame. Missaki promptly induced a bases-clearing double play for the first and second outs.

The importance of the twin-killing became apparent on the very next pitch. Nick Ciuffo deposited a pitch over the right field wall to bring the Rays within one. However, Ciuffo would be the last player from either team to touch home plate.

Jarrett Brown (1-1, 6.43 ERA) took the baton from Missaki in the sixth inning and continued to suppress the Rays. Brown worked two innings and worked his way around three hits and one walk en route to his first hold of the season.

Manager Rob Mummau then went to Trey Cochran-Gill (2-0, 0.00 ERA) for the final six outs of the game. Cochran-Gill threw a perfect eighth inning, but ran into a minor jam in the ninth.

Ciuffo and Manny Sanchez started things off with back-to-back singles. Carter Burgess popped up a bunt attempt directly to Cochran-Gill who made the catch, spun around, and doubled up Ciuffo at second base.

“We always work on bunting plays in practice” Cochran-Gill said. “Luckily, [Burgess] popped it up to me, and I had to make a good throw.”

Cochran-Gill has been Mummau’s go-to guy in the late innings. In 18.2 innings pitched spanning over 13 appearances Cochran-Gill has yet to allow an earned run. His six saves are tied for the best mark in the Appalachian League.

Leaning heavily on a nasty slider, Cochran-Gill has otherworldly 22 strikeouts and only two walks.

“Credit goes to our coaches” said Cochran-Gill. “[Jason Blanton] has been working a lot with me lately with a few of my pitches.”

The two teams compete for the series win Sunday night at 7 pm.



Epic Encore: Pulliam, Ryan split Michael Huffman Memorial twinbill thriller


Motor Mile Speedway

Motor Mile Speedway is turning NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series Late Model drivers into drag racers.

A pair of show-stopping photo finishes punctuated the action in the Michael Huffman Memorial TWIN 75s, as three consecutive Bull & Bones Late Model division contests have now been decided by intervals of 0.03 or less.

Summarizing the epic endings that are fast becoming the hallmark of the New River Valley short track, two-time defending NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam was succinct:

“It’s getting a lot tougher to win around here.”

A seven-lap shootout following the fourth and final caution period staged Friday night’s first dead heat. Pulliam and national title counterpart Peyton Sellers authored a stellar side-by-side battle, with the frontrunners exchanging the lead on four occasions prior to the white flag. Pulliam out-muscled Sellers from the bottom groove to gain the advantage entering turn three on the final circuit, but out of turn four, Tommy Lemons, Jr. joined the fray for first.

Lemons’ no. 27 speared the left rear quarter panel of Pulliam’s no. 5 exiting the corner, and for a fleeting moment the frontrunners were three-wide. Sellers, however, couldn’t capitalize on the contact. Pinned to the top groove of the race track, Sellers failed to gain ground as the top duo lunged for the line in a drag race that culminated with a 0.03 margin of victory in favor of Pulliam’s no. 5.

For Sellers, the outcome marked the second straight photo finish involving team no. 99 at MMS.

“I brought this blue car this week thinking it might be a little bit longer, but I still came up short,” quipped Sellers, who leads the division with five runner-up finishes in 2014. “Lee [Pulliam] was a little better than we were, no doubt about it. But I would’ve loved if he would’ve raced me a little bit cleaner. I ran 30 laps with Tommy [Lemons] last race and we came home with no scratches on the cars.”

It was a hard-fought win for Pulliam, who had endured a two-month winless drought entering the twinbill.

“It was wild. Peyton [Sellers] was giving me all he had on the outside there, and Tommy [Lemons] was jacking me up from behind…it was kind of uncontrollable; three-wide to the finish line,” explained Pulliam. “It was a wonder all three of us didn’t wad it up, but we held on and made a heckuva finish for the fans.”

Lemons rounded out the podium, with Quinn Houff and Ryan Wilson scoring fourth and fifth, respectively.

The nightcap produced an even closer result, with outside pole-sitter Payton Ryan at the epicenter of the action. And while the newcomer’s starting position was luck, his finish was anything but.

The 16 year-old Jonesville, LA native started second in the finale by virtue of the inversion following the first feature. In his Motor Mile Speedway debut, Ryan paced the race uncontested through the opening 51 circuits of the contest before surrendering the point to Lemons following the first caution period.

On lap 65, Lemons relinquished the top spot to Pulliam. With ten laps of racing remaining, it appeared as if Pulliam was poised to pull off the sweep, but a pair of late-race yellows changed the complexion of the contest.

The third and final caution of the nightcap unfurled on lap 73, staging a two-lap dash to the checkers. After surpassing Lemons prior to the yellow flag, Ryan found himself alongside Pulliam for the restart.

Resilient on the top side of the race track, the unheralded rookie refused to yield to the two-time track champion. The pair remained inseparable as the white flag fell, with Pulliam desperately attempting to maneuver past Ryan’s no. 23 in turn one.

A slight bobble by Pulliam sent the no. 5 skating up the banking in turn two, and as the frontrunners rocketed down the back straightaway, it was suddenly a four-car battle for the top spot. A white-knuckle scramble for first climaxed in turn three, as Pulliam made a last-ditch effort to unseat Ryan topside. The move opened the door for Lemons on the apron of the track, and the leaders were again three-wide exiting turn four.

The final 135 yards of asphalt transformed into a dragstrip as the top four barreled towards the checkers, with Ryan prevailing in a stunning storybook finish over Pulliam. The interval from first to fourth underscored the magnitude of the spectacle: 0.13 of a second.

Due to transponder issues on Ryan’s no. 23, the track’s scoring system failed to record an official margin of victory. Photo evidence of the finish was definitive.

It was a breakthrough performance for the first-year Late Model competitor, who entered the event with three career Late Model victories. From the cockpit, the young wheelman knew it wasn’t quite too close to call.

“From the first race I had bent up my nose a little bit, so I could see [the finish]. I looked over, and thought ‘Yes! I got it.’ I kinda knew,” beamed Ryan.

“It’s the closest win of my career. It almost gave me a heart attack,” Ryan continued. “We wanted a couple top fives and a clean race car. We don’t exactly have a clean race car, but we got the win.”

Pulliam placed second, with Sellers, Lemons and Ryan Wilson rounding out the top five.


Scott Lancaster captured his second consecutive Collision Plus Limited Sportsman victory in the 50-lap division heat, expanding his advantage in the track standings to 24 points over Travis Hurt.

Chucky Williams coasted to back-to-back victories in the New River Nissan MOD-4 division. In just his second start, Matt Gusler took top honors in the Carpet Factory Outlet Street Stock contest, and Scott Howell claimed his second win of the 2014 season in the UCAR division.




Mariners Lose in Marathon Offensive Showcase

Teams combined for 28 runs on 42 hits


Media Intern

The Pulaski Mariners (18-16) contested the first game of a three game series with the Princeton Rays (18-16)—a series with major implications for the top of the Appalachian League’s Eastern Division. The game turned into a scoring bonanza, and Princeton eventually emerged victorious after twelve innings by the score of 16-12.

Princeton opened the scoring affair with one run off starter Pat Peterson (0-1, 3.60 ERA). Peterson held his own against the Rays’ onslaught. He lasted five innings and surrendered four runs on nine hits.

Peterson’s replacement, Daniel Thieben, was the only Pulaski hurler to not allow a run. He pitched the sixth inning, walked one Ray, and struck out two.

The Mariners struck for eight runs between the second and third innings. Back-to-back singles by Jose Leal and Tom Verdi plated the first two runs in the second.

Pulaski hung a six figure in the third. Estarlyn Morales and Wayne Taylor both recorded RBI doubles, and Yordi Calderon drove in two more as the Mariners poured on. Calderon led the team with three runs batted in.

“There was a lot of energy with the team tonight” said Carlton Tanabe. “We scored a lot of runs early in the game which pumped everyone up.”

Tonight’s contest was a see-saw battle. Both teams exchanged leads five times over the course of the twelve innings, and thrice were both sides tied.

“You have to stay positive” Tanabe said. “You cannot give up. You have to grind it out and keep faith that you can come back.”

With Pulaski’s bullpen bare, Tanabe (0-1, 36.00 ERA) entered the game to pitch the top of the twelfth inning—the decisive inning. Prince scored four times and slugged two home runs off Tanabe. Pulaski tamely faded away with a one-two-three bottom of the inning.

The two teams attempt to regroup from Friday’s slugfest with game two tonight. Per usual, first pitch will be at 7 pm.

Two children injured seriously in single-car crash Friday

IMG_20140725_121039From Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office

Friday at 11:50 a.m. the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office responded with REMSI EMS and Draper Fire Dept. to the 3200 block of Lowmans Ferry Road in Shiloh for a motor vehicle accident.
According to Sheriff’s Office Capt. Jeff Saunders, upon arrival responders found a 2008 Chevrolet four-door sedan had ran off of the right side of the roadway and hit a tree and then rolled over into a field.
The driver was Crystal Lynn Lefler, 35 of Draper and there were 2 small children, ages 2 and 4 in the vehicle, one of which was ejected.
All 3 were transported to local hospitals, where both of the children were flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital with serious life threatening injuries.
Lefler has been charged with DUID and the accident is still under investigation by Deputy Russell Mitchell and the Pulaski County Regional Crash Team.

Shrewsbury new PCHS Band Director

Pulaski County Public Schools has announced the appointment of Matthew M. Shrewsbury as the new band director at Pulaski County High School.

matthew_shrewsbury_photo-165x258Shrewsbury’s appointment is pending final approval by the school board.

Shrewsbury is a 2003 graduate of PCHS.

He earned his Bachelor of Music Education from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. and his Masters of Secondary Music Education from Coastal Carolina University, Conway, S.C.

He comes to Pulaski County from Coastal Carolina University where he served as the Assistant Director of Bands, the Director of Athletic Bands and was the assistant conductor for the symphonic band.

Cougar Football Camp July 28-29

Cougar Football Camp
July 28-29, 2014
6:00-8:00pm for grades 2-8.

Registration: The camp is open to rising Elementary and Middle school students (grades 2-8) . Registration application and money may be returned to PCHS ( makes checks payable to PC TD Club) in the main office or mailed to :
Pulaski County High School,
Attention: Stephen James,
5414 Cougar Trail,
Dublin, VA 24084.

Cost of Camp: $10 for an individual or $15 for 2 participants in the same household. A t-shirt is included in this price.

Information: This camp will be conducted by the Cougar Staff and players. It will emphasize basic fundamentals in all aspects of the game.

Mariners’ Bats Fall Silent

Pirates shut out Pulaski in series finale 


Media Intern

The Bristol Pirates (10-21)shut down the Mariners’ offense en route to their tenth win of the season. Pulaski was never truly able to put together a scoring chance as they fell 5-0.

Ricardo Pereira got the spot start for the Mariners. Pereira pitched 4.2 innings and allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits while striking out four.

“Pereira didn’t pitch poorly, but he did make a few mistakes” said Rob Mummau. “He left some balls up which were hit hard. He has been good for us all year, so I know he’ll bounce back next time.”

Bristol drew first blood with two runs in the third inning. Carlos Ozuna and Candon Myles opened the inning with back-to-back singles. The two runners advanced on a throwing error during a pickoff attempt by Pereira. A single by Edgardo Munoz sends Ozuna home for the first Pirates run of the night. Myles scores the second Pirates run of the inning on a ground ball to second base.

The Pirates scored once in the sixth inning to push their lead to five to nothing. Bristol loaded the bases with no outs. Luis Pina induced a ground ball double play which scored Trae Arbet but placed two outs on the board.

All night long the Pulaski batters were befuddled. The Mariners scratched out five hits—two by Tom Verdi—but could not plate a run. Verdi’s eighth inning double was the lone extra base hit for the team.

This shutout comes after Pulaski’s offense had been clicking. Over the previous four games the Mariners had slugged four home runs.

“Their pitchers had a good idea of what to do” said Mummau. “You have to tip your cap to them and try to do better tomorrow.”

The Mariners prepare for a three game series with the Princeton Rays. First pitch begins at 7pm.