Local News

  • Cold temperatures delay school opening

    INDEPENDENCE — First it was rain, then snow. And now unusually cold temperatures have delayed the opening of a new school in Grayson County.

    Last month, Grayson Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas announced a tentative date of Jan. 18 as the first day of classes at Grayson Highlands School — a school that will combine Bridle Creek Elementary and Mount Rogers Combined School.

    Thomas told The Gazette in an e-mail Thursday that the new opening date will be delayed beyond next week.

  • Carroll schools prepare to cope with state budget cuts

    HILLSVILLE — As challenging as the 2009 budget was, Carroll County Public Schools managed last year to soften the blow for 2010's fiscal year.

    Deep cuts are coming in Gov. Tim Kaine's final state budget of his term, and many localities face difficulties in making ends meet in 2010.

    Many localities used federal stimulus funds to avoid laying off personnel in 2009.

    At that time, Carroll Schools Superintendent Greg Smith warned against creating new budgetary problems in the future with the recovery act dollars from the federal government.

  • Tight Security

    INDEPENDENCE — Even if the state doesn't have funding to open a new state prison under construction in Grayson County this summer, contractors say the facility will be ready to go.

    Changes are evident at the 252,088-square foot facility since The Gazette last visited in June 2009.

    As you pull up to the site, beginnings of the security fence is in place and all buildings are nearing completion.

    Superintendents Rick Bandy and James Johnson provided The Gazette another exclusive tour of the facility on Jan. 4.

  • Delegate Armstrong announces legislation to reign in APCO rate hikes

    Del. Ward Armstrong will introduce legislation in the 2010 General Assembly in response to citizens’ concerns about frequent rate hikes implemented in recent years by Appalachian Power Co.

    The company has requested 13 separate rate increases since 2005, Armstrong said in a news release Monday.

    APCo put two rate increases in effect in December — 12.2 percent in the base rate and 2.7 percent for transmission charges.

    As a result, the average residential electric bill increased an average of 15.5 percent, Armstrong said.

  • Fire destroys family's home

    A couple is receiving shelter assistance from the American Red Cross after their home was completely destroyed in a fire on Jan. 2, according to Galax Fire Chief David Hankley.

    Upon arrival, firefighters saw the two-story, 100-year-old farmhouse was engulfed in flames. Fire was through the roof when the first floor collapsed, and the crew battled the fire for more than two hours.

    The home's occupants, Emorey Kelley and his wife, escaped unharmed. The house is owned by John Porter.

    The Galax Volunteer Fire Department determined this was a flue fire.

  • VDOT announces more layoffs

    HILLSVILLE — The last day for the Virginia Department of Transportation's Hillsville residency is April 24, a Saturday, so its 10 employees will report there for the last time April 23.

    The Virginia Department of Transportation has laid off 678 employees this week statewide in its latest round of downsizing.

    In all, 1,318 full-time and 450 part-time jobs are being eliminated statewide to help offset a $4.6 billion transportation revenue shortfall over the next six years.

  • GNB robber pleads guilty

    ROANOKE — Richard Donald Hawes’ fifth bank robbery worked out no better than the first four.

    In August, he’d approached a teller at Grayson National Bank in Hillsville. Wearing overalls, gloves, sunglasses and a ball cap, and with a bandanna pulled up over his face, Hawes held out a plastic bag and said, “No dye packs, no dye packs,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake Jacobsen said.

    But the teller didn’t listen.

  • Galax helping Vaughan-Bassett with expansion plan

    The City of Galax has begun looking at possible funding opportunities to allow Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. to expand its facility at 300 E. Grayson St., City Manager Keith Barker announced during last month's city council meeting, but this would require abandoning a portion of Railroad Avenue and Depot Street, between East Grayson and East Oldtown streets, and relocating utilities.

    Vaughan-Bassett representatives said they plan to expand to make the plant more efficient, which would allow the company to maintain existing jobs.

  • Skywatcher

    Given the time of year the photo was taken, it might be tempting to think of the two shining dots pictured in the night sky as Santa's sleigh and the Star of Bethlehem.

    But instead of holiday sentimentality, think man-made and high tech to explain the temporary brightness in the firmament on Nov. 25, 2009.

    Amateur astronomer J.D. Sexton of Pipers Gap captured an image of these lights while showing his grandson — perhaps the next generation of skywatcher — the galaxies.

  • CVS robbed for drugs

     HILLSVILLE ee* Police believe the objective of an armed robber who hit the CVS pharmacy in Hillsville Saturday was to steal prescription drugs to sell.