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Public Safety

  • State police facing shortage

    The arrival of a new year is typically seen as a time of positive change, but as 2011 dawns, state police officials are braced for what they see as a bad situation about to get worse, even in Southwest Virginia.
    On Jan. 1, their sworn ranks of 262 uniformed personnel are scheduled to shrink by another 13 across the state because of retirements. That drop comes at a time when officials say their numbers are already too lean.

  • Galax police armor up

    The steel gray Lenco armored vehicle that rolled through Galax on Wednesday for the first time will be housed by the Galax Police Department and used within the region as an incident response vehicle.
    The Galax Police Department received a $251,792 grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Services Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program to buy the vehicle to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives threats.

  • Christmas wreck leads police to stolen property

    If you break into a church — on Christmas, of all days — expect things to not go your way.
    That appears to be the case for two people arrested Dec. 25 in Grayson County, after their car wrecked in the snow while leaving the church and police discovered stolen property inside.

    According to Grayson Sheriff Richard Vaughan, deputies responded to an automobile accident on Snow Hill Road in Fairview, but when they arrived, the driver and a passenger had fled on foot.

  • I-77 safety an ongoing effort

    SALEM — The foggy and windy stretch of Interstate 77 in Carroll County requires vigilance — not only from speeding drivers, but from the state and local officials that oversee its safety.
    Virginia Department of Transportation officials have taken a long, hard look at the accident-prone highway and put into place numerous safety improvements over the years, starting with a weather station in the mid-1990s.

    As severe and sometimes fatal pileups continue to occur during poor weather conditions on Interstate 77, VDOT is not standing still.

  • Snow, slick roads lead to I-77 wrecks

    A chain reaction of crashes in the snow and ice on Interstate 77 in Carroll County on Sunday resulted in minor injuries.
    The Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department was responding to a single-car crash involving a vehicle on its side on Sunday afternoon when firefighters received a call to a three-car accident in the southbound lanes of I-77, near the 21 milemarker.

    The crash involved a tractor trailer and six other vehicles.

  • 911 call includes 'begging' voice, gunshots

    SPARTA, N.C. — The Alleghany County Sheriff’s Department may not have a body, but it does have a 911 tape of a man begging not to be killed.
    A Cana, Va., couple and a Mount Airy man have been charged with the murder of Michael Thomas Hawks, 40, of Mount Airy.
    The sheriff’s office received the call on Oct. 26 at 7:30 a.m. and later heard “muffled gunshots” in the background before the call ended.
    The information was taken off of a search warrant obtained to search the home of Wayne Thomas Lawson Jr., 39, of Mount Airy, N.C.

  • Suspect charged in Fancy Gap armed robbery

    HILLSVILLE — A suspect has been arrested in connection with the Dec. 16 armed robbery at the Kangaroo Express in Fancy Gap.
    Joey Roby Sechrist, 48, of Brushy Fork Road in Cana, is charged with armed robbery and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
    Carroll County deputies and Virginia State Police troopers scoured Interstate 77 and other areas of Carroll County after receiving a report that the business on Chances Creek Road had been robbed.

  • Two charged with drug possession

    Two people were arrested in Galax on Tuesday after a traffic stop and charged with possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and a Schedule III drug.
    According to a Galax Police Department report, officers Shawny Jones and Drew Burnett stopped a vehicle operated by Richard D. Hash, 29, of Independence, who was driving on a suspended driver’s license.
    While the traffic stop was being conducted, observations made by the officers resulted in the arrest of a passenger, Leona Peoples, 27, of Independence and Hash.

  • A month of fire and ice

    On sub-zero days and nights this month when many of us were huddled inside next to the fireplace, the Galax Volunteer Fire Department was out in the cold dealing with flames that were anything but cozy.
    With temperatures in the teens and wind chill well below zero, firefighters have answered several major calls to house fires.

  • 'Herbal incense' overdose reported

    INDEPENDENCE — A popular and controversial new way to get high has found its way to Grayson County, according to Sheriff Richard Vaughan.
    The “herbal incense” products, marketed under the brand name K2 and available on the Internet, have come under fire for their health effects. Some of the K2 products are banned — but not in Virginia — and some are legal in all states.