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    • Martinsville Daily
      29-year-old Kayla Marie Whisnant of Carbon City Road in Morganton was arrested by Hickory Police at about 10:15 a.m. Monday on grand jury indictments for felony obtaining property by false pretense and felony conspiracy. Those warrants were issued on July 9th of this year. She was also arrested on a felony warrant as a fugitive awaiting extradition to another state. Whisnant was wanted by the Martinsville Police Department for possession of heroin.
      She was jailed in the Catawba County Detention Facility with bond set at $80,000, secured. A District Court date on the fugitive warrant was scheduled Tuesday in Newton. Whisnant will appear in Superior Court in Burke County in December.

    • The Virginia High School League has qualified Bassett High School as a class four sports classification. Previously the school system was a class three. The classification is determined by enrollment and Bassett High School has one student over the class three limit. As a class four, Bassett would have to travel an average of 71 miles for its away games, which is the main reason the school system is making a formal appeal on the matter. If the Virginia High School League grants the appeal request, Bassett will be the big fish in a small pond. As a class four school, they would be the small fish in a big pond. 

    • Yunior Torres-Blanco and Ynaisel Garcia Previously Pled Guilty to Aggravated Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud
      ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A pair of Florida residents, who for nearly eight months used electronic devices to illegally skim credit card numbers from gas station customers throughout Southwest Virginia and North Carolina, were sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court on a pair of federal charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.
      Yunior Manuel Torres-Blanco, 25, of Hialeah, Fla., was sentenced earlier this week to 42 months in prison. Ynaisel Garcia, 22, also of Hialeah, was sentenced to 36 months in prison. Both defendants previously pleaded guilty to one count each of aggravated identity theft and one count of credit card fraud.  In addition, Garcia previously pleaded guilty to four counts filed in the Middle District of North Carolina – conspiracy to commit access device fraud and three counts of access device fraud.
      “These defendants stole the identities of hard-working Virginians and caused tens of thousands of dollars in financial loss,” United States Attorney Cullen stated today. “I am grateful for the hard work of the Roanoke County Police Department and the Secret Service in bringing them to justice.”
      Investigators determined that between December 2016 and August 2017, Torres-Blanco and Garcia placed credit card skimmers on various gas pumps throughout Southwest Virginia and North Carolina, and captured the credit card information of customers who purchased gasoline.  As part of the scheme, the defendants retrieved the stolen credit card information from the skimmers, created new cards using the stolen numbers, and used the cards to purchase gift cards, services, and merchandise.
      In August 2017, a detective with the Roanoke County Police Department recognized a vehicle with Florida plates traveling in Botetourt County as one similar to a vehicle suspected of being involved in a gas pump credit card skimming scheme. It was soon determined that Torres-Blanco and Garcia were inside the vehicle. When approached by law enforcement for a traffic stop, Garcia attempted to elude law enforcement and Torres-Blanco threw items, later identified as gift cards, from the window.  Once they stopped the vehicle and were able to search it, investigators found two credit card skimmers, a laptop computer, 68 unopened gift cards, 86 credit cards, of which 83 had been re-coded with stolen credit card information, a new 55-inch television, and a new 65-inch television. In all, Torres-Blanco and Garcia obtained more than $40,000 in merchandise, gift cards, and services.                 
      The investigation of the case was conducted by the Roanoke County Police Department and the United States Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case for the United States. Assistant United States Attorney JoAnna G. McFadden prosecuted Ms. Garcia on the four counts brought in the Middle District of North Carolina.

    • Summer internships may mean job shadowing in some organizations, but not The Harvest Foundation.
      Three local students found that out this summer as they rolled up their sleeves to help Harvest move to its new offices.
      They drew on their computer skills to move grant files from papers to computers. They learned that their opinions mattered when the Harvest staff sought their input during discussions of community issues.
      And they realized that, at least for now, they want to move back here someday because, as intern Karli Foster put it, they know how hard people are working to improve the area. “We know the community will be better than when we left,” she said.
      Foster, Cameron Brummitt, and Ryan Byrd were interns at The Harvest Foundation this summer. Foster graduated from Bassett High School this spring and will attend Virginia Tech this fall.
      Brummitt is a 2016 Magna Vista High School graduate who attends the University of Virginia. Byrd graduated from Bassett High School in 2016 and Patrick Henry Community College in 2017, and he attends Virginia Tech.
      This summer, they spent much of their 20-hour-a-week internships helping the foundation move to its new offices in the former SunTrust building in Uptown Martinsville. They packed boxes, organized materials, helped move furniture and more.
      Byrd said he and Brummitt even helped the construction crews carry items, clean up and “whatever they needed … to make things easier for them.”
      The interns also helped the foundation move its files into a new grants management system. Harvest President Allyson Rothrock called that task “monumental” because each grant can involve dozens of sheets of paper and, according to its 2017 annual report, the foundation awarded more than 250 grants in its first 15 years.
      Brummitt and Byrd scanned the paper documents and Foster added them in the new system as Harvest moves into a paperless world.
      “When we started they didn’t expect us to get half done” by the summer’s end, Foster said. But they finished by late July, even with Byrd and Brummitt learning Foster’s role so the work didn’t stop when she went on vacation.
      “We were told flexibility was important in this internship, and that was true,” Foster said. But the interns’ influence and the knowledge they gained went much further than moving furniture and files.
      “Most internships are job shadows. We were treated as equal here. We were asked for our opinions, not just told” what to think or do, Foster said.
      “They valued our opinion,” Byrd said, adding that the interns attended a Harvest board meeting and several program team meetings. “They encouraged us to speak,” and not just on matters of interest to young people.
      “We talked about grants proposed to them. We would also partially get a vote” and could make suggestions to Rothrock, he said.
      Brummitt agreed. “We had more of a voice in what was going on instead of just listening,” he said.
      That differed from other internships and jobs he has had in the past, and it led to more chances for collaboration with others, Brummitt said. Learning to collaborate was one of his goals for the Harvest internship, he added.
      “I wanted to learn a new skill set that I may not have been exposed to prior to this” and how to talk and work professionally with others, he said.
      There also was a positive environment — “a smile every day” — at the foundation, Brummitt said. “They genuinely cared” about the interns, and asked about their plans, he added.
      “I enjoyed feeling like I had a purpose in the internship because of how much Harvest invests in the community,” Byrd said. He added that is evident in its new offices, the grants it awards and its investment in the social aspects of the community, such as the Smith River Fest on Aug. 11 where Harvest Communications Director Latala Hodges will spend the day.
      Byrd is pursuing a career in the data analytics field. His mother saw a Harvest announcement of summer internships on Facebook and “it was exactly what I was looking for,” he said. “With Harvest, it was more enticing because of what it does for the community,” and he is aligned with its vision and values.
      “I learned how to act professionally in an office environment. That will help me in the future to transition to the business field. It helped teach me things I didn’t learn in school — how to communicate and work together to achieve one goal,” he said, adding that he also got more hands-on experience at the foundation.
      Foster interned at Harvest during her senior year in high school as part of the O’Henry Internship Program, and both she and Brummitt served on Harvest Youth Board. Foster was its chairman last year. 
      Her favorite part of the summer internship was “being part of something big for the community. This move (of Harvest offices) is big for Harvest but bigger for the community. It’s exciting to be around,” she said.
      Both Foster and Byrd said the internships helped them value the community and realize how many people are working to improve it. All three interns said they hope to return here someday if jobs are available.
      As long as the Harvest Foundation board approves funding, the organization will have interns, according to Rothrock.
      “They bring a breath of fresh air into the foundation,” she said. They sat in on meetings of the staff, board and board committees, and they were asked for suggestions and recommendations at each session, she added.
      “I’m a big believer in paving the way for the next generation. When you don’t give them a part in making decisions and listening to important discussions, don’t complain when you can’t find people” to hire in the future, Rothrock said. “I believe we’ll have a really good pipeline of young people ready to step up for leadership positions between the Youth Board and interns.”
      DeWitt House, senior program officer at Harvest who has than 30 years of experience as an educator, agreed that internships are valuable for the students and Harvest.
      “I think it was invaluable to have a different perspective at the table. The interns participated in every aspect of our operations and were able to articulate different viewpoints. I think the experience is great for them but just as valuable to us. They bring a certain level of energy, enthusiasm, and creativity that is infectious,” he said.
      At the beginning of each year, Rothrock and the Harvest staff meet to discuss future projects that interns could help with and decide the focus of the internships. That is included in a detailed job description that is circulated through social media and to area high school principals by spring break, Rothrock said.
      This year, there were 13 applications for internships. Harvest had planned to hire two interns, but the staff was so impressed with Foster, Byrd, and Brummitt that all involved agreed to hire three who would work fewer hours and days a week.
      When recruiting interns, Harvest looks for high school graduates who are interested in the community and want to give back to it. They also should be interested in Harvest’s work and goals, Rothrock said.
      At a recent farewell luncheon for the interns, Rothrock told them she was sorry to see them leave but eager to see their success in the future. “I’m always on my soapbox with them because I want them to be successful,” she said later.
      She also recently asked them to consider what they had done for someone else that month. She didn’t expect an answer then but told them she will ask the same question each time she sees them.
      A few days later, Brummitt told her he had his answer. He said he was leaving the next day for the Dominican Republic where he was going to coach unprivileged, underserved young men at a baseball camp. 
      “He’s going to make a difference in those young people’s lives,” Rothrock said.
      (From left) Cameron Brummitt, Karli Foster and Ryan Byrd

    • High pressure over the central and southern Appalachians will move off the southeast coast by Thursday night. Low pressure over the Great Lakes will track east Friday and Saturday pushing a cold front into the Mid-Atlantic region. This front will remain in the area through Monday. Sunny today with a high of 88. Fog early Thursday, otherwise sunny with a high near 90. 50 percent chance of shower and thunderstorms Friday with a high near 89. 60 percent chance on Saturday with a high near 86 and a 40 percent chance on Sunday with a high near 84. 

    • The Center for Disease Control is reporting that 436 people became ill from a parasite linked to McDonald’s salads with cases reported in 15 states including Virginia. The CDC says Cyclospora infection was reported in people who ate salads from McDonald’s restaurants. Cases of the illness were reported in Connecticut, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. People who became ill from the parasite were between the ages of 14 and 91. There are no reports of deaths, but at least 20 have been hospitalized. If you purchased one of these pre-made salads or wraps, and have not yet eaten it, the CDC says do not eat it. Throw it away or return it to the place of purchase.

    • Being appointed to City Council must be more appealing to those wishing to serve than running for it. Eight people have applied to fill Sharon Brooks Hodge’s seat. They are Charles Cousins, III, former City Councilman James Ronald Ferrill, Garland Kendrick Hairston, current Martinsville School Board member Eric Hruza, local stockbroker Lawrence Dean Johnson, current Planning Commission chairman Joseph Martin, and former City Council candidate James Nathaniel Woods. One person who resides outside of the city limits even applied. They were disqualified and the name dismissed without releasing it. Council will hold a special meeting Thursday at 7 p.m., to hear from city residents about the candidates. Then they plan to interview the candidates. A decision will be made the following Monday. 

    • Martinsville, VA – On Friday evening, 23 young men and women celebrated a milestone at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC). After months of preparation in PHCC’s Middle College program, all 23 students passed their GED examination. Friday night, the college celebrated theses students’ accomplishments with a graduation ceremony. 
      The commencement speakers included former Middle College graduates, Nic and Tre Wooten; Mike Coulson, who is the father of four former Middle College graduates; and Nathan Martin, one of this year’s graduates. All of the speakers, in their own ways, emphasized how perseverance and determination were key for the graduates to reach this milestone and would be key to their future success.
      The following students received their GED from PHCC’s Middle College program:
      Crystin Bolen of Martinsville, Kayla Carroll of Fieldale, Bernardo Chavez of Ridgeway, Lauren Clark of Ridgeway, Caleb Clinard of Martinsville, William Grady of Ridgeway, Caleb Hamm of Meadows of Dan, William Harold of Bassett, Nathanial Hines of Ridgeway, Nathan Martin of Bassett, Magali Miguel of Bassett, Caleb Miller of Fieldale, Jessica Miller of Bassett, Skylar Neugent of Collinsville, Ezra Park of Martinsville, Soloman Park of Martinsville, Zachary Porter, Thomas Robinson of Martinsville, Zachary Shelton of Ridgeway, Travis Strader of Ridgeway, Nicholas Wolfe of Stanley Town, Lamenia Wooten of Martinsville, and Heather Young of Martinsville.
      Middle College assists 18 to 26-year-old students who have not completed high school by obtaining their GED and with academic and career readiness training. Historically, the majority of the students who graduate from Middle College enroll in college courses within the year. This year is no exception with 19 of the 23 graduates already enrolled to take fall classes at PHCC.
      Many Middle College students also earn the National Career Readiness Certificate which provides proof to future employers that they possess essential workplace skills such as applied math, reading, and information processing. This year, two-thirds of the NCRC completers earned silver or better. 

    • High pressure over the Tennessee Valley today moves east to Virginia tonight. A cold front will approach the region later in the week, reaching the Mid Atlantic region on Friday and Saturday. There is a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today with a high of 85. Sunny on Wednesday and 89. 20 percent chance of storms and rain on Thursday with a high of 90. 90 again on Friday with the chance of storms and rain increasing to 30 percent. For the weekend, 30 percent chance of storms and rain Saturday increasing to 60 percent on Sunday. The high will be near 87 both days. 

    • State police are investigating a crash that killed a Bassett man Sunday night. It happened around 10 a.m. on Oak Level Road, close to Philpott Drive in Henry County. State police say a 1999 Chevy Blazer was headed south when the driver ran off the road, hit a tree, and then hit a utility pole. The driver, 44-year-old Bassett resident Michael Todd Withrow, died at the scene. He was not wearing a seatbelt, according to state police. The cause of the crash is under investigation. 

    • Police in Virginia are gearing up for an intense enforcement period to combat drunken driving during the end of summer. Beginning Friday and continuing through Labor Day, approximately 89 law enforcement agencies will operate 94 checkpoints and 612 saturation patrols around the state. In 2017, 248 people in Virginia died as a result of drinking-related incidents. During last year’s Labor Day weekend, Virginia roads saw 703 alcohol-impaired traffic injuries. The increased enforcement will be supported by the 17th annual Checkpoint Strikeforce outreach campaign. A 30-second advertisement called “Act Like It” debuted this week, reminding viewers that drinking and driving is irresponsible. The message is if you’re old enough to drink, act like it and get a safe ride home.

    • The City of Martinsville managed to thread the needle with Sunday afternoon storms. Rain fell through the area, but most of the thunderstorm activity split just to the north and south of the city as it passed through. Still, shortly after 3 AM, this morning power in several parts of the city went out according to the operator of the after-hours emergency line. Crews restored power by 4 AM. No word on how many people were affected. The operator stated the power was out due to “lines down.” No other details were available.

    • The 16th annual “Jennifer Short Memorial Bike and Car Ride” was held Saturday. It began and ended at the Victory Baptist Church in Fieldale and included a police escorted ride and ceremony to the bridge where Jennifer Short’s remains were found. Michael and Mary Short were shot and killed in their home and 9-year-old Jennifer was abducted. It was determined she had been shot and killed also. The murders remain unsolved. About $2,500 was raised.  

    • According to a release from the Henry County Sheriff's Office, on August 10, 2018, at approximately 1:20 AM, the Martinsville/Henry County 911 Center received a call from SOVAH Health Martinsville in reference to an individual that had suffered multiple gunshot wounds. Deputies with the Henry County Sheriff’s Office responded to the hospital and spoke with a male victim in the emergency room.
      Alvin Gregory Turner, 56, of 195 Lakewood Park Dr, Martinsville, Virginia was initially treated at SOVAH Health Martinsville and subsequently airlifted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery for gunshot wounds to the lower abdomen. Through the course of the investigation, it was determined that the shooting occurred during an altercation between Turner and Raykwon Demon Hairston.
      Raykwon Demon Hairston, 23, of 110 Lakewood Park Dr., Martinsville, Virginia has outstanding warrants for one count of Malicious Wounding and one count of Use of a Firearm during a Felony, both charges are felonies.
      Raykwon Demon Hairston is currently wanted by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office. Hairston is described as a black male, 5’ 07”, brown hair and brown eyes. Hairston is believed to be armed with a handgun.
      Anyone having information pertaining to the whereabouts of Raykwon Demon Hairston or this incident is asked to contact the Henry County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 638-8751 or the Crimestoppers Program at 63-CRIME (632-7463). The Crimestoppers Program offers rewards up to $2500.00 for information related to crime. The nature of the crime and the substance of the information determine the amount of reward paid.

    • According to the National Weather Service, clusters and bands of strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible through late this afternoon with damaging winds the primary threat. Very heavy rainfall within the stronger storms may be enough to result in localized flooding. A weak cold front will shift southeast across the area today beneath an upper-level area of low pressure that will sink into the mountains this afternoon and tonight. Added rounds of showers and stronger storms will accompany the front today with lingering scattered showers and thunderstorms into Monday. Weak high pressure builds in with somewhat drier weather for the middle of next week. In the forecast, there is an 80 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today, 60 percent tonight, 40 percent Monday and Monday night, and 20 percent on Tuesday. Highs will be in the mid 80’s and lows in the mid 60’s. 

    • The owner of Clyde’s Discount Foods, Clyde Lavern Sparks of Ridgeway, was convicted in April of distributing uninspected meat products and related charges. On Wednesday, Judge David V. Williams found that Sparks violated terms of his plea agreement and reinstated 20 of the 90 days he had previously suspended. The 82-year-old man pleaded no contest to charges of distributing meat without a business license, failing to keep proper records, and failing to obey a warning about unsanitary conditions. According to Henry County Commonwealth’s Attorney, Andrew Nester, Sparks was caught by regulators 3 weeks after he pleaded guilty repeating the same violations. 

    • According to the National Weather Service, scattered thunderstorms containing very heavy rainfall may occur in localized spots this afternoon due to a weak low-pressure system that slowly tracked across the northeast along a stalled front across the region this morning that will exit later today. An upper-level area of low pressure will then sink south tonight into Sunday resulting in additional rounds of showers and storms Sunday afternoon into Monday. Weak high pressure builds in with somewhat drier weather for the middle of next week.
      The forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today with a high near 87. The chance increases to 60 percent Sunday and Monday with a high near 85. 
      The Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight and Sunday night. Unless we get a break in the clouds, we may not get a view this time. If the clouds open up, find the darkest place possible, give your eyes time to adjust and look northward. Under ideal conditions, a meteor every minute is possible. 

    • Gov. Ralph Northam wants to take roughly $250 million in extra state revenue caused by federal tax cuts and redirect it to low-income families through tax refunds.
      Northam said Friday that he’ll propose using about half of the $500 million the state expects to take in annually due to changes in federal tax policy to provide tax relief to an estimated 400,000 low-income workers.
      The governor said he intends to ask the General Assembly to make the state’s low-income individuals tax credit refundable. If the change is approved, someone who owes the state $800 but qualifies for a $1,000 credit would get a $200 refund.
      The credit, similar to the federal earned income tax credit, is available to tax filers whose gross income falls below federal poverty levels. The credit is currently nonrefundable, which means the state doesn’t pay the difference to a filer who qualifies for a credit worth more than their tax liability.
      The size of the refunds will depend on a person’s particular tax status, Northam said, but the refunds could amount to “several hundred dollars for some families.”

  • Blog Entries

    • By Martinsville Daily in Bill Wyatt 1
      Our network programming for radio and television has been provided to us almost exclusively by means of C-band transmission. The transmissions originate from orbiting satellites at very low power, therefore, it takes a very large dish to receive these small signals for re-transmission. Over the past ten years, interference has become more prevalent at our satellite farm on Chatham Heights Road. Now it has reached the level where many of our receivers no longer are able to provide reliable service. For those of you interested in a more technical explanation, here is one source. 
      The source article points out the "services in large areas covering intercontinental and global communications provide a wide range of services for distance learning, telemedicine, universal access, disaster recovery, national security, air navigation and safety, e-government. We have been able to determine the interference we are receiving is sporadic (not constant), and very strong. The spurious emission splatters across almost the entire C-band spectrum, rendering filters useless. We have not been able to determine the source of this interference, despite concerted efforts to do so. We have been able to determine the signature produced would indicate it is a ground-to-ground transmission and not listed in any databases confirming its use. I have talked with a number of experts in this field and the consensus is we are likely the victim of some government use, be it national security or the like. Regardless, there is no viable solution to our problem, at least not one that restores reliable C-band reception.
      Fortunately, we have been able to restore most of our network programming services with an IP solution. In some instances, an IP solution doesn't exist, and in those cases we have had to provide alternate programming. thisTV Network provides no alternative to C-band at this time, and the interference has rendered this source no longer viable during daytime hours. For whatever reason, the interference only occurs during the daylight hours. Our C-band reception is unaffected during the overnight hours. 
      Until a solution is found, our programming of thisTV Network will be limited to midnight to 6 AM. Should the interference become present during the overnight hours, we will be left with no recourse, but to discontinue thisTV Network.   
      Bill Wyatt
    • By Martinsville Daily in Bill Wyatt 1
      This morning around 10 AM our audio line that feeds the transmitter at Koehler from our studios went dead. You may recall we experienced some damage during storms last month causing the top portion of a utility pole to break off and fall to the ground. This same pole feeds our transmitter building. The pole was replaced today, and apparently, the workers did not reconnect the line. We reported the problem and CenturyLink has indicated they would have someone out within 24 hours. Given their word, WHEE should return to the airwaves sometime tomorrow.

      New utility pole

      What used to be our smooth and level entrance way

      Partial damage from last month's storms

      The broken utility pole that was replaced