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Public Safety

  • Tougher penalties for texting while driving

    A stricter law on texting while driving took effect in Virginia July 1.
    The General Assembly this year revved up the state’s 4-year-old ban on typing or reading text behind the wheel, making the activity a primary offense and raising the fine for first-time offenders to $125 from $20.
    Subsequent violations are now punishable by a fine of $250, rather than $50.
    Before, police had to have another reason, such as speeding, to stop a driver and issue a ticket for texting. That no longer is required.

  • Grayson men killed in accidents

    Two Grayson County men were killed in separate accidents last week, and both died after being pinned under vehicles.
    On the afternoon of June 26, Earl Bronson Cornett, 70, was mowing his yard on Gem Stream Road in Elk Creek.
    According to a report by Sgt. Arnold Peters of the Grayson County Sheriff's Department, Cornett was mowing a steep bank when his tractor went over a wall, trapping him under it.
    According to the report, an EMT was on the scene in four minutes and found no pulse.

  • Grayson will back new police positions

    INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County Supervisors approved a plan on June 27 that would accept grant money to add two school resource officers and a crime prevention officer to the sheriff department.
    Earlier this month, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that Grayson was among 24 localities that received a grant from the state Criminal Justice Services Board, which would pay a portion of the salaries and benefits for two additional school resource officers (SROs).

  • Police say Howard confessed to killing wife

    RALEIGH, N.C. — A search warrant has revealed that a North Carolina man charged with his wife’s murder confessed to the killing when arrested by police in Galax last year.
    According to a report by Raleigh TV station WRAL, Sonny Howard admitted to the crime just moments before Galax officers found his wife’s body in the back of his pickup truck.
    Howard, 42, of Wake County, N.C., is charged with first-degree murder in the May 23, 2012, death of his wife, 50-year-old Sherry Howard.

  • School chief says drivers' backgrounds are checked

    HILLSVILLE — All Carroll County Public School employees go through an extensive checklist before starting work to protect the safety of students, according to schools Superintendent Strader Blankenship.
    A June 14 incident recently came to light, in which a substitute bus driver got pulled over by police for driving erratically. He was subsequently charged with driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.
    This resulted in questions from the public about background checks for school employees, Blankenship told The Gazette.

  • Authorities find meth lab in Cana

    HILLSVILLE ― Cooperation from Stokes County, N.C., law enforcement led the Carroll Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police to search a Cana home on Tuesday and charge two individuals.
    An informant gave tips to the Stokes County officers about a possible active methamphetamine manufacturing operation. That information resulted in the search warrant being issued for 88 Childrens Lane the morning of June 24, according to Carroll Investigator Donnie Spangler.

  • Motorcycle crashes roadblock during chase

    A Galax man faces multiple charges after allegedly leading police on a pursuit on a motorcycle the night of June 22.
    Grayson County Chief Deputy David Ashby said Deputy Jordan Johnson was on routine patrol on U.S. 58 around midnight near Baywood Market when he noticed a 1986 Honda motorcycle without a taillight. He was following the motorcycle and didn’t see a license plate.
    The motorcycle turned onto Delhart Road, and when Johnson turned on his emergency lights, he reported that the motorcycle took off.

  • Driver charged for DUI in school bus

    HILLSVILLE — A former Carroll County Public Schools substitute driver for summer faces two class 1 misdemeanor charges after allegedly operating a bus while drunk.
    Ricky Lee Phillips, 51, will no longer be a bus driver for Carroll schools after the June 14 incident, when Hillsville Police Department Patrolman Billy Anauo charged him with a first-offense driving of a commercial motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless driving, according to Carroll court records.

  • Pursuit comes to 'shocking' conclusion

    HILLSVILLE — A man who allegedly ran from police after a domestic dispute ended up getting tasered by police in a Hickory Hills Shopping Center store on June 18, according to Hillsville Police Department Captain James Alderman.
    Hillsville police officers received a call reporting a domestic on Howlett Street at Westview Terrace Apartments, Alderman said.
    Sgt. Jason Hawks responded. When he arrived on the scene, a suspect named James Berlin Linville, 35, fled on foot towards the shopping center.

  • Money stolen from Peking Palace

    HILLSVILLE — Town police have asked for help from the public in solving a theft from Peking Palace on June 18.
    Hillsville Police Department Investigator Alan Gravley continues to look into the incident at the restaurant at 2664 Old Galax Pike, according to Captain James Alderman.
    “Apparently, the owner or the manager was distracted by individual or individuals and a bank deposit bag with an undisclosed amount of money and a wallet was taken,” Alderman reported. “The wallet was recovered over in Wytheville,” on Peppers Ferry Road.