en Galax man convicted of mall arson <img src="" alt="Logan Parks" title="Logan Parks" align="left" hspace="6" width="54" height="85" /><p> WYTHEVILLE &mdash; A Galax man has been convicted of arson for setting a fire that destroyed the abandoned Fort Chiswell Outlet Mall in April 2018.</p> <p> Logan Scott Parks, 19, is one of three people from the Twin Counties charged in the incident, along with Anthony Jerome Sawyers, 26, of Woodlawn and Breanna Faith Hodge, 18, of Galax.</p> <p> Parks pleaded no contest to the felony arson charge at a hearing Jan. 16 in Wythe County Circuit Court and was convicted. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.</p> Parkway volunteers can’t work during shutdown <img src="" alt="The Blue Ridge Parkway road and overlooks are open, but other services are on hold during the shutdown." title="The Blue Ridge Parkway road and overlooks are open, but other services are on hold during the shutdown." align="left" hspace="6" width="160" height="85" /><p> As the federal shutdown continues, volunteers from Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway are gearing up for maintenance work on the national park as soon as government reopens.</p> <p> Last week, Audrey Pearson, executive director of the Friends group, said the organization and its partners had asked that volunteers refrain from working on the parkway during the shutdown, even though they are not federal employees.</p> Former teacher sentenced to six months <img src="" alt="Jessica Snow" title="Jessica Snow" align="left" hspace="6" width="53" height="85" /><p> INDEPENDENCE &mdash; Jessica Kincaid Snow, a former teacher for the Galax City Public Schools system, will serve six months after submitting a guilty plea to five charges involving inappropriate relationships with two minor students.</p> <p> Snow, 33, appeared in Grayson County Circuit Court for a hearing on Thursday.</p> Body of N.C. man found in Carroll <img src="" alt="Christian Lang Willard" title="Christian Lang Willard" align="left" hspace="6" width="48" height="85" /><p> FANCY GAP &ndash; State and local law enforcement agencies from both Virginia and North Carolina are conducting investigations after discovering a body in the Fancy Gap area of Carroll County on Wednesday night and charging a suspect with murder.</p> City will lease new police cars <p> Galax City Council approved leasing police cruisers from Enterprise Fleet Management instead of purchasing them at the Jan. 13 meeting.</p> <p> As presented by Police Chief DeWitt Cooper, the cost of leasing is slightly higher than that of owning, but will allow four new cruisers to be added, while the existing cruisers that were oldest and most in need of repairs can be auctioned off.</p> Independence approves town park plan <p> INDEPENDENCE &mdash; Independence Town Council has approved the final draft of a conceptual plan for development of the town park.</p> <p> Surveying and engineering firm Hurt &amp; Proffitt provided a revised concept map to members of council for their review at the Jan. 9 meeting.</p> <p> The plan has undergone revisions after receiving public input from stakeholders and citizens, including members of the Independence Farmers&rsquo; Market, who use the space for their market season; and the Grayson County Public Library, which requested improvements to its parking lot.</p> Supervisors want more input from citizens <img src="" alt="" title="" align="left" hspace="6" width="88" height="85" /><p> INDEPENDENCE &mdash; The Grayson County Board of Supervisors has approved the option of adding a question and answer period for additional clarification of issues brought up at monthly meetings.</p> <p> Board members said the goal with this change is to improve communication with the public.</p> <p> County supervisors made the change at their Jan. 3 organization meeting.</p> Va. could ratify Equal Rights Amendment <img src="" alt="Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment gather to greet legislators arriving for the first day of the General Assembly on Jan. 9." title="Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment gather to greet legislators arriving for the first day of the General Assembly on Jan. 9." align="left" hspace="6" width="140" height="85" /><p> <em>Capital News Service</em></p> <p> RICHMOND &mdash; An 8-6 vote by a Senate committee has brought the federal Equal Rights Amendment one step closer to passing the General Assembly &mdash; which could make Virginia the 38th and final state necessary to add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution.</p> <p> The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee voted Jan. 9 to approve a resolution that Virginia ratify the ERA, which was proposed by Congress in 1972 and would prevent federal and state governments from passing laws that discriminate on the basis of sex.</p>