In your weather - High pressure will build across the region from the north this afternoon and remain in place through much of the upcoming weekend. This should allow for drier weather under seasonable temperatures the next few days. Increasing heat and humidity should return along with better chances of showers and storms ahead of the next cold front for early next week. The forecast calls for 86 today and tomorrow, 87 on Saturday, 90 to 91 Sunday through Wednesday. Next chance of rain will be a slight one on Sunday increasing to 50 percent by Monday night.
Starting July 31, smoking will no longer be allowed in public housing nationwide. This ban was announced in November 2016 from U.S. Housing and Urban Development but Public Housing Agencies were given until July 31 to abide by the new rule. The policy states that no smoking will be allowed within 25 feet of any public housing or inside the building. In addition to this policy, each housing agency can create more smoke free areas if they want. HUD said that smoking can cause the maintenance costs to increase, so this smoke-free rule will help reduce damage tied to smoking as well as lower the risk of accidental fires. The rule was originally announced in 2016, at which time at least 600 of HUD's more than 3,100 Public Housing agencies already had smoke-free policies in place.
On Wednesday, the Henry County Planning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning of a 103-acre property in the Blackberry District from Industrial to Agricultural. At its next meeting, the Henry County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation and approve the rezoning request. The applicant, Jessica Collins, hopes to create an educational non-profit wildlife sanctuary called “Collins Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary” on the property, which is located on the west side of Mary Hunter Drive just south of Moses Moore Drive in the Blackberry District.
A Florida man is now being investigated for murder after a police chase through Carroll County. After a police chase on Saturday, Hillsville police arrested 49-year-old Orange City, Florida resident Matthew A. Barber. He is charged with DWI, carrying a concealed weapon, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, hit and run, reckless driving, disregarding police commands, vandalism, and obstruction of justice. On Tuesday, while jailed, Barber made statements to the corrections staff that he may have harmed someone in Orange City. Hillsville Police asked officers in Florida to check it out. When officers arrived at the address Barber gave, they knocked on the door with no response. They forced their way inside and found a dead woman in the hallway. Police say there were "obvious signs" of foul play. No one else was in the home. Police have identified the victim as 58-year-old Orange City resident Hilda G. Bailey. A medical examiner will determine her cause of death. Police believe this was not a random act. Barber is being held in Virginia without bond.
Around 1:23 AM on Wednesday deputies from the Rockingham County Sheriff’s office responded to a suspicious person outside of I.H. Food Mart in Reidsville. When officers arrived, they found Nicholas William Rogers inside the business and took him into custody. He is being held in the Rockingham County Detention Center under a $15,000 secured bond.
Nearly three dozen people in Martinsville are still homeless after a recent apartment complex fire. The apartment complex on East Church Street caught fire on June 30th, and it doesn't look like residents will be able to come back any time soon. The fire caused more than $600,000 worth of damage to several units, leaving more than 30 people without homes. Piedmont Community Services, which helps people who have behavioral health issues, uses the building to house its clients. The director says they're all staying at a local hotel right now but plan on rebuilding the apartments once the insurance company clears it.
Two men in jail because of their involvement with a teen prostitution ring in Eden will soon be free. Donnie Ray Carter, 58, and Everett Ferris Jr., 70, accepted new plea deals that gave them lesser charges and reduced sentences. Both the prosecution and defense explained in Rockingham County Superior Court that the deals were based on charges in line with the actual crimes the men committed and not what they were initially charged with by former District Attorney Craig Blitzer, who resigned in March 2017 amid a State Bureau of Investigation probe. He later pleaded guilty to failure to discharge the duties of his office. Carter, Ferris and two other men were accused of paying $5 to $20 to Teresa Vanover in exchange for sexual acts with her daughters. Vanover told police she forced her older daughter, 15 at the time, to allow the acts to be performed on her by the four men for money to buy crack cocaine and to pay her husband's medical expenses. Eventually, the oldest daughter refused to participate and Vanover said she began to use her younger daughter, then 13. The older daughter alerted police to the abuse in September 2015. Since then, Vanover, Carter, Ferris and Thomas "Tommy" Woodall have been serving sentences based on a variety of charges. A fifth person — Mickey Dale Snow — has maintained his innocence and is awaiting trial.
A young Callaway man charged with capital murder dodged the prospect of the death penalty Tuesday by striking a plea agreement with prosecutors in Franklin County. The unexpected move came at what was docketed to be a pre-trial motions hearing in the case of Aaron Seth Dean, who was indicted just two months ago in the fatal shooting last August of 18-year-old Allyn Gray Riddle. Dean’s jury trial was set to begin July 19, and his attorneys, Carolyn Furrow and David Furrow, had recently filed one motion seeking funds for an expert investigator and another motion requesting a continuance. At Tuesday’s hearing, however, Dean alongside his counsel instead entered eight straight guilty pleas — primarily to a reduced count of first-degree murder, but also to charges of armed burglary, entering a house while armed to commit murder, robbery, entering a building to commit assault, use of a firearm in a felony, larceny of a firearm, and use of a sawed-off shotgun in a crime. Dean, who will turn 21 next month, avoids the possibility of being put to death by the state. But he has no agreement on his sentencing and he now faces up to five life terms plus an additional 43 years behind bars.
Virginia Delegate Charles Poindexter said on Tuesday that he expects insurance premiums to increase for local residents. Speaking at the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s Post-Legislative Luncheon, Poindexter said he believes hospitals affected by a new tax will pass those costs on to consumers. The planned hospital tax was put in place to help fund Virginia’s portion of the costs for Medicaid expansion. Poindexter said he voted against the legislation, which he said “adds 18- to 64-year-old healthy, childless adults, no children in the home, based on income,” whereas in the past, Medicaid in Virginia served those, in health care, “who were very, very poor.”