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    • Martinsville Daily
      Average retail gasoline prices in Virginia have risen 5.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.53/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,081 gas outlets in Virginia. This compares with the national average that has increased 5.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.71/g.
      Including the change in gas prices in Virginia during the past week, prices yesterday were 30.1 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 17.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 17.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 30.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
      According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices on April 16 in Virginia have ranged widely over the last five years: $2.23/g in 2017, $1.94/g in 2016, $2.20/g in 2015, $3.48/g in 2014 and $3.44/g in 2013.
      The least expensive places in Martinsville to purchase gas today:
      Kroger, Commonwealth Boulevard, $2.39.
      Exxon, East Church Street, $2.39.
      CITGO, Liberty Street, $2.39.
      "The seasonal surge at gas pumps is in full motion, causing the most dreaded time of year for fearful motorists, especially of what may still be coming," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "With the national average gas price now at its highest since July 26, 2015, I can't immediately allay all fears of a continued spike in gas prices, however, we're likely in the closing innings of the seasonal rise- let's just hope we don't go to extra innings. In the past few years, the average date that gas prices have peaked is mid-May, which is just around the corner, and by all metrics, that could be very close to what we expect this time around. Refinery maintenance has gone well thus far, and gasoline supply has continued to push higher as more refiners conclude their work. With the transition to summer gasoline also wrapping up, the reasons gas prices to rise will shrink."

    • The National Weather Service in Blacksburg has issued a flash flood watch until midnight tonight and a tornado watch until 11 PM this evening for Martinsville, Henry County, and the surrounding region. 
      At 4:56 PM, severe thunderstorms were located along a line extending from near Stuart to Dillard, moving northeast at 55 mph with 60 mph wind gusts and quarter size hail. Hail damage to vehicles is expected. Expect wind damage to roofs, siding, and trees. Locations impacted include Martinsville, Mayodan, Madison, Stuart, and Danbury.
      A tornado watch remains in effect for the warned area. Tornadoes can develop quickly from severe thunderstorms. Although a tornado is not immediately likely, if one is spotted act quickly and move to a place of safety inside a sturdy structure, such as a basement or small interior room.
      Prepare immediately for large hail and damaging winds. For your safety, move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Stay away from windows.
      Heavy Rainfall Possible This Afternoon and Evening
      A strong cold front will approach the area from the west this afternoon and pass across the region tonight. Deep moisture ahead of this boundary will lead to bands of showers and heavier thunderstorms this afternoon and early evening. The potential exists for 1 to 3 inches of rainfall with locally higher totals from the Blue Ridge foothills westward into southeast West Virginia.
      Excessive rainfall may lead to flash flooding in urban areas such as Roanoke and Martinsville, and along creeks, streams and low lying areas.
      You should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

    • 70 year-old Donald Ledbetter, Sr., of Franklin County, died Friday. A house on Booker T. Washington Highway, north of Rocky Mount, had been converted into apartments and Ledbetter lived in one. When fire broke out at 4:15 in the morning, everyone escaped, including Ledbetter, but according to reports, the man when back inside for unknown reasons and succumbed to the blaze. The body has been take to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy. 

    • There is an increased fire danger this afternoon. Dry weather will persist today with breezy conditions this afternoon. These breezy dry conditions will result in the potential for hard to contain brush fires. With temperatures forecast in the 70's to near 80, the humidity will drop to between 25 and 35 percent. Southwest winds of 8 to 14 mph, and gusts of 15 to 25 mph, will be common this afternoon. Under these conditions, extra caution is advised when handling any potential fire ignition source. Be sure to properly discard all smoking materials. Any dry grass or tree litter that ignites will have the potential to spread quickly.
      Your 3-day forecast calls for sunshine today with a high near 80 and wind gusts up to 24 mph. Tonight, cloudy and 56. Saturday, Partly sunny, a high of 78, wind gusts up to 24 mph. Saturday night a slight chance of showers after 11 pm and 59. Sunday, 100 percent chance of showers along with the possibility of severe thunderstorms and gusty winds after 2 pm. Look for a high of 74. 

    • Area to host Division I Regional Tournament
      For the seventh consecutive year, Hooker Field in Martinsville, Virginia will host the Division I Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament for the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA). The double-elimination tournament will be held May 11th-13th at Hooker Field. This event will determine which team travels to the NCBA World Series in Holly Springs, North Carolina.
      Four college club baseball teams will participate in the tournament. While playoffs are still going on, teams in the past have included Ohio State University, East Carolina University and Virginia Tech. All athletes will stay locally at the Comfort Inn and the Baymont Inn & Suites, which were selected by the NCBA as their host hotels.
      Games for the tournament are scheduled for Friday, May 11 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Saturday, May 12 at 9 a.m., 12 noon and 3 p.m. and Sunday, May 13 at 9 a.m. A tiebreaker game will be played at 12 noon on Sunday, if needed. A rain date has been set for Monday, May 14 in the event of an extended delay in the tournament schedule.
      Admission is $5 for Friday and Sunday, and $10 on Saturday.  Children five and under are free with a paying adult. The Martinsville Community Recreation Association will sell concessions, as fans will not be allowed to bring outside food or beverages into the stadium. All proceeds from ticket sales and concessions will benefit Hooker Field.

    • The Danville Police Department is currently investigating a motor vehicle theft incident that occurred on April 2, 2018 at an area gas station. The reporting party stepped inside the gas station to pay for a fuel purchase leaving the keys in the vehicle. A male subject in a vehicle adjacent to the victims, entered the victim’s car and drove away. The suspect was accompanied by a female who assumed the drivers position in the suspect’s vehicle as they left the scene. The female is described as white, having blonde hair wearing a gray sweatshirt and dark sunglasses. The male is described as white, wearing a blue t shirt, blue jeans and white shoes and had a tattoo on his right arm. The stolen vehicle is a silver Nissan Altima displaying Virginia registration VWE - 7131 at the time of the theft. The suspect vehicle is described as a dark colored Honda 4 door with visible license plates ACA - 1368 but with unknown state identifiers at this time.
      Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call 911, Danville Crime Stoppers at (434) 793-0000, the Danville Police Department at (434) 799-6508, or via our crime tips line on your computer at crimetips@danvilleva.gov. Information given will remain confidential.

    • Martinsville Police presented to Council, the annual crime report for 2017. For the most part, crime is up. Police Chief Eddie Cassidy blames most of it on drugs. Crime overall is less than it was a decade ago, but there are fewer people that live in the city now than then. The number of calls police respond to has remained about the same over the past 5 years. On average, city police respond to 44 calls a day, slightly less than 2 per hour. 
      According to policeone.com there are 54 officers employed by the city. 20 percent of the time, the caller is reporting suspicious activity, 16 percent of the time it involves animals, 13 percent are due to alarms, 11 percent to disturbances, and 9 percent of the time the caller hangs up. Police follow-up on everyone.

    • City Council doesn’t want to be blindsided by another Dick & Willie walking trail controversy, so they are proposing a change to the zoning ordinance the affects the definition of what is considered an “open space.” Basically, it would put a project like the Dick & Willie expansion at the mercy of the City Manager who would have the authority to deny the plan. Council will meet with the Planning Commission next month before committing. 

    • The upcoming city budget included a 4.64 percent hike in electricity. If approved, the increase will start July 1st. City residents and businesses will be paying more for electricity beginning July 1, if the proposed budget is approved. Rates for sewer and water remain the same and tax rates will remain level. Schools asked for almost $250,000 more than last year, but will get $10,000 less while city employees will get a 2 percent raise. Overall, Martinsville’s budget will increase from $92.7 million to $93.2 million. Council hopes to make the new budget official on May 8th. 

    • If you’re an African American, Asian, or Pacific Islander who bought a Toyota from January 2011 to August 2016 and financed that car with Toyota Motor Credit Company, you might be entitled to a repayment from a $21.9 million settlement fund. It turns out that the US Department of Justice discovered that Toyota Motor Credit Company has been charging some people higher interest rates without regard to their credit scores. The fund was set up in 2016 after an investigation that began in April 2013 found that people of color were charged, on average, $100 to $200 more on their loans. 
       

    •  

      A missing 83-year-old man from Madison has been found safe by the Henry County Sheriff's Office. A Silver Alert was issued Sunday morning for Paul Lawrence McBride, who was last seen on the 1200 block of Odell Street in Madison. Authorities believed he could be going to Ferrum, Va. according to a release.

    • Average retail gasoline prices in Virginia have risen 0.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.48/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,081 gas outlets in Virginia. This compares with the national average that has fallen 0.6 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.65/g. 
      The least expensive place in our area to buy gas right now is Kroger on Commonwealth Boulevard at $2.29/g. The Valero on Memorial Boulevard is $2.38/g, and the Exxon on Church Street and Liberty Street Market on Liberty Street are both $2.39/g. 
      "As markets have seen concern rise of a possible trade war between the U.S. and China, oil prices have been hit hard, leading gas prices to dramatically slow their recent ascent. While the pause button may be hit for the time being on the spring surge, it is still likely we'll see prices advance again soon," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. "Thankfully, the bulk of refinery maintenance is likely behind us, but keep in mind the volatility of the stock market has had a major influence on gas prices in the last year, so we may still be susceptible to sudden and dramatic change in U.S. policy and also still being susceptible to any lingering maintenance at the large refineries."

    • It was only fitting for U.S. Senator Tim Kaine to spend time listening to New College Institute (NCI) alumni and students, after all in 2006, as the former Governor of Virginia, he signed legislation to establish NCI.
      Senator Kaine stated he had planned to begin with his own talking points and then open the discussion up for questions, but when he saw all the NCI alumni and students in the room he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear directly from them. He asked each individual to tell the degree(s) they earned and if/how NCI impacted that opportunity, and if there was anything he could do to develop better-informed policies at the Federal level. “If we write the laws with only traditional students in mind, then we are not representing an increasing number of students” who are going back to school under different circumstances, Kaine shared with the group.
      Senator Kaine’s wife Anne Holton, former Virginia Secretary of Education and a current Virginia Department of Education Board member, was also in attendance.
      “Anne and I will learn the most by hearing a little bit from each of you” and welcomed the group’s advice for improving the process for other non-traditional students.
      A room full of students and graduates shared a similar message: despite challenges and obstacles in life, NCI created an opportunity to earn their degree and improve their lives.
      Warren Rodgers completed his Bachelor of Social Work Degree from Norfolk State University at NCI in 2014. Though he started as a traditional college student, he felt he wasn’t truly ready to earn his education. “Later, I decided that I wanted to be in a position to help others better their lives as I was bettering my life. NCI was the perfect opportunity because I could not uproot my family and go to a traditional campus. Even though online education was available, I needed to be in a classroom with a peer group. The schedule allowed me to work full-time. There were long nights and weekends, but it was worth it,” shared Rodgers, Executive Director of Southside Survivor Response Center.
      “I was one that would go back to school and then quit, go back to school and then quit. When I enrolled at NCI, I gained a family in my cohort of students who are there to support and encourage me all along the way. I will graduate in May, and I am proud that I have completed my goal,” added Marquita Kirby, current Longwood University student at NCI.
      Many graduates, including Yolunda Scales, spoke to the motivation and inspiration of their families to get them through the process. “After getting my daughter through college, she encouraged me to go back to school and earn my MSW (Master of Social Work Degree). Continuing my education has opened doors in my career and even allowed me to become a professor within the Longwood BSW (Bachelor of Social Work Degree) program at NCI.” Scales earned her MSW through Norfolk State University at NCI in 2016.
      “I was a product of the textile industry for as long as I could work there. Then, I went on to earn my GED and attended Patrick Henry Community College. Then, I decided that I wanted to pursue something even greater. I knew that I loved people and wanted to help people, so I decided to start the BSW (Bachelor of Social Work Degree) with three school-aged children and a husband at home. My BSW has allowed me greater opportunities in my career, and now I really enjoy the work that I do. I would not have been able to complete my educational goals if NCI had not been available to me. The education and my professors were great,” said Julia Campbell, a Norfolk State University at NCI graduate in 2011.
      “I started the traditional route in school, but landed a great job and decided to put off completing my bachelor’s degree. Later, I moved to Martinsville, and I met with a professor here at NCI and decided to join a cohort. During my last year of school, I interned with Hooker Furniture and now work there today. NCI not only helped me earn my education, but connected me with my employer,” said Michael Esdaile a Virginia Commonwealth University at NCI graduate in 2013.
      Even though many of the graduates are labeled as “non-traditional students” because they did not go on to earn their degrees directly after high school, Tim Hall noted that he preferred for this category of student to be known for the mantra, “we don’t quit.” Even though Hall held career and family responsibilities, he would work well into the night to complete his schoolwork. Hall attended NCI to earn his MBA from Averett University in 2007 that provided the background and education for him to step into his current role as County Administrator for Henry County.
      Kaine extended many thanks to the students for sharing their stories, which will help inform him of policy needs for the future, especially as non-traditional or “we don’t quit” students continue overcoming obstacles and improving their lives through programs such as those offered at NCI.

    • The Governor of Virginia has just signed a bill making it more difficult to tell the difference between a nurse practitioner and a doctor. Governor Ralph Northam has signed a bill allowing most nurse practitioners to gain the autonomy to practice without a physician’s oversight. The bill allows most types of nurse practitioners with five years of full-time clinical experience to earn approval to practice without maintaining a contract with a supervising physician.
      The bill’s supporters said the contracts were a burden and doing away with them could expand access to care. The measure drew opposition from physicians, who raised patient safety and quality-of-care concerns.
      More than half the state’s affected nurse practitioners have already met the five-year experience requirement.

    • City Manager Leon Towarnicki will present his budget proposal to City Council Tuesday night. Council members have instructed Towarnicki to present them with a budget that does not include any tax increases. However, Towarnicki says utility rates and the fees that go with them are up for consideration. With revenues flat and expenses rising, Towarnicki says they will cut where they can and raise utility rates if they have to. His staff is still crunching the numbers. 

    • The National Weather Service in Blacksburg says by 3pm Saturday the temperature will drop to 37 degrees and rains that are expected to begin tonight will continue through the day and into Saturday night. With the temperature dropping to 29 degrees Saturday night the rain could change to snow between 8pm and midnight. Little accumulation is expected. After sunshine on Sunday, rain and snow will return after 2am Sunday night and continue until around 9am Monday morning. 

    • According to a report from WSLS-10 in Roanoke, the superintendents of Martinsville and Henry County are staying out of the political discourse regarding consolidating the two school systems, but they both agree that most people don’t realize how much they already work together. Jared Cotton, Henry County Superintendent, admits a merger would save money. The topic has been a contentious one over a long period of time. 

    • Judge Jackson Kiser admitted that Malvester Dixon had been mistreated by the legal system, but said it was unlikely he would honor Dixon’s request to have the court officially declare him innocent. Dixon took his formal request to the U.S. District Court in Danville and Kiser told Dixon he was making his appeal to the wrong court.
      Dixon was convicted along with Maverick Thomas of paying Billy Ray Manns $10,000 dollars to kill Maverick’s wife, Lisa Thomas. Thomas was murdered in the clothing store in Uptown Martinsville that she and her husband owned. Police charged Manns with the murder and the first trial ended in a hung jury. The jury in the second trial acquitted Manns. Under the protection of double jeopardy, Manns admitted that he killed Thomas and collected the money from Maverick and Malvester. Manns was facing 20 years in prison for other crimes and agreed to a plea deal. For his testimony, former Martinsville Prosecutor Joan Ziglar agreed to a 1 year prison sentence for Manns. The testimony was enough to convince two separate juries that Malvester and Maverick hired Manns to kill Lisa. Both were tried, convicted, and imprisoned.
      From prison, Manns began telling other inmates he lied because the plea deal was too good of an offer to refuse. Eventually, Ziglar was forced to nolle prosse both cases and Malvester and Maverick were freed.
      It was suggested at the time that Lisa Manns, who was a member of Dixon’s church, had planned to leave the church and Malvester and Maverick believed their Nation of Islam faith gave them the right to end her life for doing so. Both men claim their innocence. It’s unknown whether Mann’s has changed his story again or not.  

  • Blog Entries

    • By Martinsville Daily in Bill Wyatt 0
      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
      WHEE, WMVA, WYAT


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