Former Va. governor’s corruption case goes to jury

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The public corruption case against former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, is in the hands of a federal jury.

The seven-man, five-woman jury filed out of the courtroom to begin deliberations Tuesday after hearing nearly two hours of instructions from U.S. District Judge James S. Spencer. The jury heard from dozens of witnesses and reviewed a mountain of exhibits over the past five weeks.

The McDonnells are charged with doing special favors for Jonnie Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplements maker Star Scientific Inc., in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans.

Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing other than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Maureen McDonnell did not testify.

Williams testified under immunity that he spent freely on the McDonnells only to secure help promoting his company’s chief product, the anti-inflammatory Anatabloc. His immunity deal bars his prosecution not only for his dealings with the McDonnells, but also for possible securities fraud violations that were investigated by a separate grand jury.

Spencer told the jury that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses. The heightened scrutiny is required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is “affected by self-interest.”

The judge also walked the jury through the charges, including “honest services fraud” and conspiracy to commit such an offense.

“A conspiracy is, in a very true sense, a partnership in crime,” Spencer said.

Multi-vehicle crash occurs on I-81 at the Peak Creek Bridge

25From the Virginia State Police

Virginia State Police Troopers are investigating a multi-vehicle Labor Day crash that occurred on Interstate 81 at the Peak Creek Bridge in Pulaski County.  The crash involved six different vehicles and slowed traffic on I-81 for several hours.  Troopers managed to keep at least one lane of traffic opened at all times during the investigation and clean up, but the volume of traffic still resulted in traffic backups, necessitating the rerouting of traffic onto alternate routes for several hours.

First Sergeant Mike Honaker of the Virginia State Police stated the crash occurred when a truck that was hauling scrap metal lost part of its cargo on I-81 at the Peak Creek Bridge.  He stated the vehicle hauling the scrap metal did not stop at the scene and has not been identified.

Honaker stated that once the metal was deposited onto the roadway, the subsequent crash occurred when a 2006 Nissan Altima slowed to avoid the debris on the highway, as the Nissan slowed, a 2013 Mazda also slowed down nearly stopping, while a 2015 Subaru also slowed behind the Mazda.  Honaker stated that once all three vehicles had slowed and were all stopped or nearly stopped to avoid striking the metal in the roadway, a 1989 Winnebago RV failed to stop and ran into the back of the Subaru, which caused the Subaru to strike the Mazda and the Mazda to subsequently strike the Nissan Altima.  Once this chain of events had occurred, almost immediately, a 1997 Dodge Van traveling northbound then struck the back of the Winnebago.

The crash resulted in significant damage to all of the vehicles involved, however there were no serious injuries, though most of the drivers and passengers in the vehicles were transported to local hospitals for examination and treatment of minor injuries.  Concerning the crash, First Sergeant Honaker stated, “We are more than fortunate that a crash this significant, involving this many different vehicles, did not result in any serious injuries.  I know that after the crash occurred, many of the other motorists may have been inconvenienced by the traffic backup and delays, but once we were on scene and witnessing the damage, we were simply thinking about how blessed we were that this Labor Day crash caused only minor injuries, especially with a pair of two year old twins being in one of the most significantly damaged vehicles.”

Honaker stated that two of the drivers involved in the crash were charged by investigating troopers.  As a result of the initial crash, the driver of the Winnebago RV, Dennis D. Beverage, 56, of Roanoke, Virginia, was charged with “Following Too Closely.”  This charge was filed against Beverage for failing to stop before running into the back of the Subaru, which contained the two year old twins.

Also charged was Jennifer Renee Fink, 36, of Roanoke, Virginia, with “Following Too Closely.” This charge was filed against Fink as well for failing to stop before running into the back of the Winnebago RV immediately after the initial crash.

Trooper Daniel Scaletta and Trooper Mark Overholt of the Dublin State Police Office are investigating the crash.  Additional investigative efforts are ongoing to identify the truck that failed to secure its load, depositing the scrap metal into the roadway without stopping.  Anyone who may have information about this vehicle and the driver should contact Trooper Scaletta or Trooper Overholt at the Virginia State Police office in Dublin at (540) 643-2560.

 

 

 

Abingdon man dies in single vehicle crash in Draper

By Capt. Jeff Saunders
Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office
On Thursday, Aug. 28 at approximately 8:30 p.m. the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office responded with Draper Fire and REMSI EMS to the 2700 block of Wysor Rd. ( Rt-100) in Draper for a single vehicle crash.
Deputies found a 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck pulling a utility trailer was traveling North on Wysor Rd. and ran off of the right side of the road, over corrected and went across the road, hit an embankment and over turned, ejecting the driver.
The driver was identified as 65 year old John Ramsey Flournoy, Jr. of Abingdon. Flournoy was not wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene.
Accident is still under investigation by Deputy C.A. Moore.

West Main Development Company, LLC Unveils plans for major re-development project in Pulaski

Pulaski – The Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones visited today to participate in the announcement of a major redevelopment project in Downtown Pulaski that will renovate some existing buildings, attract new residents, businesses, and create jobs. The total investment will be more than $1.5 million.

West Main Development, LLC has purchased or has under contract four buildings in the West Main corridor of the Town of Pulaski, Virginia. The properties are located at 29 West Main Street, 85-87-89 West Main Street, 69 West Main Street, and 94 West Main Street. In addition, investors have purchased or have contracts on at least ten residential properties in Pulaski. As previously announced, a private investor involved with West Main Development (Ms. Cathy Stripling) has also purchased “132 Guesthouse” at 132 3rd St NW that will serve as a “guesthouse” for tourists.

“I applaud Pulaski and everyone involved in this project for their efforts to revitalize downtown,” said Secretary Jones. “Downtown redevelopment is at the heart of community development, which is vital to the health of our neighborhoods.”

Tyler Clontz, a 2008 Pulaski County High School graduate, who is a member of West Main Development noted that when he graduated from high school, he had few memories of coming downtown. “Like most people, the broad streets of downtown and the turn of the century facades of these buildings, probably made me think about the town that once was,” Clontz said.

“I now see a boulevard once again lined with bustling shoppers and people who live downtown. I am proud to be a part of this effort.”

Clontz thanked the project’s partners, including the Town of Pulaski, the County of Pulaski, the Pulaski County IDA, and several other public and private partners.

Stripling, a Blacksburg native and the project leader noted that “When complete, we plan to have 10 apartments and five commercial storefronts. We estimate that, when we are finished, there will be over 9,000 square feet of apartment space and over 6,500 square feet of commercial storefront space added to the downtown marketplace,” she said.

“West Main Development’s total investment will exceed 1 million dollars.” Stripling noted. The total project will rehabilitate over 15,000 sq. ft. of downtown property.

The Town of Pulaski and Pulaski County have provided loan funds for so-called “soft-costs” (architectural and engineering drawings, e.g.) to assist West Main Development on the project.

The Town and County have been in discussions with Citizens Telephone Cooperative based in Floyd about creating fiber optic connections to insure the highest speed internet connections for the developments.

Construction work will begin very soon on 85/87/89 W. Main (the former Farmer Building) that will be privately financed. The entire project, however, has been procured and bid.

The developers will seek permanent financing from the Virginia Housing Development Authority and hope to obtain certificates of occupancy by the end of calendar year 2015. The project will seek to qualify for Historic Tax Credits and Enterprise Zone funds.

“We are building on the restoration efforts already underway and adding momentum to the ongoing downtown renaissance,” said Clontz.

10 Things to Know for Thursday

The Associated Press

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. FRESH HOPE FOR WORLD’S ABUSED WOMEN

A decision by a U.S. government board establishes for the first time that domestic violence victims can qualify for asylum in America.

2. MOTHER PLEADS FOR RELEASE OF CAPTURED US JOURNALIST

In a video, she appeals to the Islamic State militants to show mercy to 31-year-old Steven Sotloff, who was last seen a year ago in Syria.

3. WHY MANY PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS STILL DON’T HAVE MEDICAL INSURANCE

Consumer advocates warn that insurance companies are still using wiggle room to discourage the sickest — and costliest — patients from enrolling in “Obamacare.”

4. UKRAINE SEPARATISTS LAUNCH BOLD OFFENSIVE

The attack along a new southeastern front raises the prospect that the rebels are seeking to create a land link between Russia and Crimea.

5. HOW WEAPONS LESSON WENT TRAGICALLY WRONG

A 9-year-old girl being taught how to fire an Uzi at an Arizona range fatally shoots her instructor in the head when the weapon recoils.

6. CASH KEEPS FLOWING FROM ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE

The viral fundraising campaign for Lou Gehrig’s Disease is approaching a stunning $100 million. And the money keeps pouring in.

7. REALITY SHOW BECOMES ALL TOO REAL

A crew member with the TV show “Cops” dies when gunfire breaks out as police in Omaha, Neb., disrupt a robbery.

8. WHO’S RIDING HUGE WAVES PUSHED ASHORE BY PACIFIC HURRICANE

Intrepid surfers and body-boarders flock to favored spots along the Southern California coast to take advantage of the storm-spawned surf.

9. BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLUES HIT DOGS, TOO

When their young owners return to school, many pets experience separation anxiety, experts say.

10. USC FOOTBALL PLAYER, HAILED AS HERO, ADMITS TO LYING ABOUT HOW HE BADLY INJURED BOTH ANKLES

Josh Shaw, a team captain, retracts his story about jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew. How Shaw actually was injured remains a mystery.

Obituary for Freda Joy Warf Edmonds

Freda Joy Warf Edmonds, age 80 of Pulaski passed away Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at her home. Born February 27, 1934 in Wilco West Virginia she was the daughter of the late John Clyde Warf & Minnie Catherine Cox Warf. Her husband – Everett Lee Edmonds, Sr., son – Ricky Edmonds and number of brothers and sisters also preceded her in death.

She is survived by her

Two Daughters and Sons-in-law

Sandy & Paul Turpin – Pulaski

Mary Catherine & Tommy VonGarlem – Hughesville, MD

Son- Gary Wayne Edmonds – Pulaski

Grandchildren

Jacob Edmonds,          Taylor Edmonds, &     Megan Turpin Riggs.

Great Grandchildren

Tanner & Cody Edmonds, Hayden Riggs and on the way, Harper Kate Riggs

Brothers

Bobby Warf & wife, Shirley Warf – Dublin

John Warf, Jr. – Draper

Eddie Warf & wife, Helen Warf – Myrtle Beach, SC

Sisters-

Gladys Ingram-Pulaski

Patsy Hall- Pulaski

Funeral services will be held at 12:00 Noon – Saturday, August 30, 2014 at the Pulaski Church of God (Refreshing Center) on Bobwhite Blvd., – Pulaski with Pastor Jerry Collins officiating.

Interment will follow at the Draper Valley Pentecostal Holiness Church Cemetery, Wythe Co.

The family will receive friends from 10:30 AM until service time Saturday at the Church.

To send the family your online condolences visit, www.bowerfuneralhome.com

Bower Funeral Chapel, Pulaski is handling the arrangements for the Family.

Military: Jet in Virginia crash based in Mass.

DEERFIELD, Va. (AP) — An Air Force jet based in Massachusetts crashed in the mountains of western Virginia on Wednesday, shaking the ground and frightening residents, and officials said the pilot’s status was unknown.

No injuries were reported on the ground, but authorities were still trying to reach the crash site — located through its heavy smoke coming from a mountainside — on Wednesday.

The pilot of the single-seat aircraft was with the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard in Westfield, spokesman Maj. Matthew Mutti said.

The jet was on a standard training exercise with no munition onboard, Mutti said. He didn’t say where it was headed or release the pilot’s name.

Military officials in Washington told local authorities in Augusta County that they had lost communication with a jet, according to Augusta County dispatcher Becky Coynter. She said witnesses reported an explosion-like noise just before 9 a.m.

“It’s the loudest noise I’ve ever heard,” 63-year-old Rebecca Shinaberry, who lives on a farm about two miles away, told The Associated Press. “(It) just shook the ground and from my house we could just see a big plume of smoke.”

Deerfield is about 135 miles northwest of Richmond.

McAuliffe orders cuts to Virginia state agencies

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is ordering state agency heads to come up with across-the-board budget cuts for the next two years in order to cope with a more than $880 million budget shortfall.

McAuliffe’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan, sent a memo to agency chiefs on Friday ordering them to come up with suggestions on how to cut 5 percent from their budgets this fiscal year and 7 percent next year.

“Please ensure that your recommendations are both practical and consistent with preserving the known priorities or directives of the governor as much as possible,” Reagan said in the memo. “This is a time of great economic uncertainty and your leadership will make a difference as we face these challenges.”

He also emphasized the need to find recurring cuts, instead of one-time savings. And Reagan told agency bosses not to make budget cut suggestions that “simply pass on additional costs to another state agency.”

Reagan said suggested budget plans could include increasing fees for outside parties.

The across-the-board cuts did not apply to higher education institutions, which would be the focus of targeted reductions later, Reagan said.

The agency heads were directed to submit their proposed budget plans to the governor’s office by Sept. 19.

McAuliffe announced the $880 million budget hole earlier this month and said that state officials will have to make “a series of hard decisions that will test our ability to protect our core priorities and balance our budget.”

Officials said $346 million will have to be found in fiscal year 2015 and $536 million will be needed in fiscal year 2016.

AAA projects increase in Labor Day travel in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More Virginians are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend, reaching a new post-recession high for the state.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says that the number of people taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home is anticipated to increase slightly this year.

That’s more than 964,300 Virginians traveling during the Thursday through Monday holiday weekend.

The majority of Virginians are expected to travel by car and gas prices have brought a welcome relief to motorists. Prices in Virginia are down about 4 percent per gallon compared with the same time last year.

Motorists are being reminded to buckle up and drive sober and distraction-free while traveling for the upcoming holiday.