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Local News

  • House, Senate conferees agree on state budget

    RICHMOND — House and Senate budget conferees have agreed on a 2 percent pay raise for state employees, restoration of $30 million in funding to local governments that had been cut and a deposit of nearly $130 million to the rainy day fund, Republicans said on Monday.

    They said a vote could be held in each chamber as early as Thursday.

    In a statement, House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) and Senate Finance Chairman Walter Stosch (R- Henrico County) said the budgets approved by each chamber earlier this month were already in close alignment.

  • Foggy Top fire under investigation

    A house fire on Foggy Top Lane in Grayson County left no injuries or fatalities but extensive property damage, said Galax Fire Department Capt. Mike Ayers on Monday evening.

    Galax firefighters responded to the siren at 5:08 p.m. on Monday. After extinguishing the fire, which Ayers said started in a front room, the fire department summoned investigators from the Grayson Sheriff’s Office. According to Ayers, this was because the fire department was unable to discern the fire’s cause.

  • Life-saving dispatchers honored in Congress

    It’s amazing where just doing your job can get you.

    For two local police dispatchers, their life-saving efforts got them recognized in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    As previously reported by The Gazette, Galax police dispatchers Tim Webb and Justin Wooten were working dispatch on Dec. 29, 2014, when an emergency call came through from the Skyland Estates section of Fancy Gap. Cheri Grable, watching her sick grandson, was on the line, desperate for help.

  • Grayson sheriff reports on 2014 activities

    By LARRY CHAMBERS, Staff

    INDEPENDENCE — The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department made 93 drug arrests last year according to the 2014 annual report released by Sheriff Richard Vaughan.

    Vaughan said deputies responded to 5,669 calls for service and served 6,253 warrants (1,145 criminal and 5,108 civil).

    Drug arrests topped the list of arrests, followed by larceny and burglary, which combined for a total of 54.

  • Panel votes down automatic rights restoration

    RICHMOND — A legislative panel has rejected a proposal that could lead to automatically restoring rights of nonviolent felons after they have completed their sentences.

    Those qualified still must petition the governor to restore their rights.

    The resolution (SJ238) sought a constitutional amendment allowing the General Assembly to decide whether to automatically restore some rights, such as the right to vote, for nonviolent felons who have fully completed their sentences, including probation.

  • State completes investigation of fatal accident

    FRIES — C&B Lumber in Fries has received a citation from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) Program, after an investigation of an accident resulting in the death of an employee in 2014.

    The citation involved paperwork, and the company was not found to be at fault in the worker’s death.

  • Few children in Va. haven't been vaccinated

    A flurry of measles infections around the country— most linked to the exposure of several dozen people to the virus at Disneyland in California — has made national headlines.

    But Virginia has yet to report a single case this year. One possible reason, according to public health officials: few children in the state are opting out of the school-required vaccine.

    In the 2013-14 school year, 446 kindergartners in Virginia applied for a nonmedical exemption from vaccines, a low number compared with other states.

  • Where's the fire? Siren activity often weather-related

    Galax citizens may have noticed an unusually high rate of activity by the city’s siren lately. So, where’s the fire?

    According to Capt. Mike Ayers of the fire department, often there isn’t one.

  • This week's General Assembly action

    RICHMOND — A Senate committee on Tuesday killed a bill that would prevent police from seizing assets in a criminal case unless a defendant were convicted or entered a plea agreement.

    The measure (HB1287) passed the House of Delegates 92-6 earlier this month and passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee 11-2 last week.

    However, the Senate Finance Committee killed it on Feb. 17, and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said it would be studied by the State Crime Commission.

  • With 2 weeks to go, a look at lawmakers' progress

    RICHMOND — With two weeks left in Virginia’s annual legislative session, lawmakers still have hundreds of bills on table.

    The House and Senate have each completed work on their respective bills and before their Feb. 28 adjournment are now considering bills passed by the other chamber.

    Some prominent issues, including tightening ethics rules for elected officials and keeping intact a prohibition on Medicaid expansion, have largely been resolved. Legislators also are close to agreement on updates to the state budget.