State officials in Virginia are meeting today to discuss the possibility of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in the Commonwealth. The Virginia Crime Commission is hosting the meeting in Richmond where commission staff will present the findings of a study on the subject, followed by public comment.
The regions two largest hospitals have their attention turned to the state of Virginia as today is the deadline for the Commissioner of Health in the Commonwealth to release his decision on the merger of Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health Systems. Tennessee has already given its blessing to the merger that would have the two hospitals become Ballad Health.
The second meeting of the Southwest Virginia Joint Senior Abuse Task Force was held today, Monday, October 30, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at the University of Virginia's College at Wise in the Chapel of All Faiths hosted by Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp. Attendees included area law enforcement officers, legislators, attorneys, adult protective service workers, financial institutions, victim advocates, healthcare workers, and citizens.
Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp described the excitement and sense of urgency in their effort, "Our task force members are excited about this effort because they recognize the need to take specific steps to protect our vulnerable citizens, seniors and incapacitated adults. We have already seen a significant increase in the number of referrals of these cases to law enforcement and prosecutions since forming our task force. Today's meeting was an important way to continue that momentum."
The task force is a collaborative effort formed by Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp earlier this year to combat and prevent abuse and financial exploitation of seniors and incapacitated adults. The first meeting of the task force was held in June 2017. Since that date, law enforcement, prosecutors, social workers, task force members and community partners have been working together in Wise County to address the issue of senior abuse.
Slemp said, "At our meeting today we developed a coordinated system to ensure that senior abuse cases are given high priority at each stage of the case, from the investigation by adult protective services and law enforcement to prosecution in court. We discussed barriers to prosecution of these cases and the task force voted to recommend five specific changes to existing law to prevent these tragic crimes before they happen."
Delegate Terry Kilgore is a member of the task force and has comitted to addressing this issue. Kilgore said, "Our current law has several loopholes that make it possible for dishonest individuals to take advantage of our seniors. The proposals discussed today are simple and common-sense solutions that will make a difference. I am committed to making sure the General Assembly takes a look at this important issue next session."
The task force voted to recommend five legislative proposals, submitted by members of the task force. They include provisions to criminalize an agent's use of a power of attorney for personal gain, a requirement for two witness signatures on a power of attorney for it to be effective, the creation of a hearsay exception for seniors' testimony in cases of abuse or neglect, and a measure to prohibit unlicensed home health care workers from accepting gifts or money given by patients in excess of $100 per year. Finally, another proposal would require Commonwealth's Attorneys offices across the state to hold multidisciplinary team meetings, like the Senior Abuse Task Force created in Wise, to address senior abuse and neglect cases.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were represented at the meeting for a training presentation and discussion on cases with prosecutors. Assistant Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Ken Lammers led the training segment of the meeting.
Wise County Sheriff Ronnie Oakes said, "We are happy to have this additional resource for our area law enforcement professionals on one of the most important issues we face in this county. My deputies will continue to work hard to protect our citizens from all forms of abuse in later life."
Seniors make up the fastest growing segment of the population in Southwestern Virginia. As the population grows, so too are the number of crimes and scams targeting older adults. According to statistics from the Virginia Department of Social Services, elder abuse affects an estimated five million people each year, as few as one in twenty-four cases of elder abuse is reported to authorities, and roughly half of people with dementia are abused or neglected by caregivers.
The task force will begin meeting regularly starting in 2018 as a multidisciplinary team to discuss specific cases of senior abuse or financial exploitation. Victim advocate Joni Coleman will lead these meetings. Coleman, who serves as Wise County Victim Witness Director, described the effort as essential. Coleman said, "I think it is important that we meet regularly with law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocates. These meetings are essential to make sure no case falls through the cracks."
Members are also planning to seek state and federal grants to help funding and provide various training sessions for the community on ways to protect seniors in the coming year.
Authorities say the child sex crimes happened in Russell County between 2013 and 2015 and now a Southwest Virginia man will spend 15 years behind bars. Kenneth Allen Salyers was sentenced for five counts of aggravated sexual battery and production of child pornography – a reduction of charges as part of a plea agreement down from an original 75 felonies. The Cedar Bluff man was sentenced to 55 years in prison, but a judge suspended 40.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 31
NORTON 5:30 – 8:30
BIG STONE GAP: 5 - 8
WISE 5:30 – 8:30
POUND 5:30 – 8:30
APPALACHIA 5 – 9
COEBURN: TRUNK OR TREAT 6-9 FRONT STREET
PENNINGTON GAP 5 – 8
DICKENSON COUNTY/CLINTWOOD 5 – 8
ST. PAUL TRUNK OR TREAT MAIN STREET 5 – 8
LEE COUNTY 5 – 8
BENHAM KY 5 - 7
LETCHER COUNTY KY 5 – 8
KNOTT COUNTY KY 6 – 8
PERRY COUNTY KY 6 – 8
HARLAN CITY 3 – 5 TRUNK OR TREAT
ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27
CUMBERLAND KY TRUNK OR TREAT ON MAIN, 3 – 5
GATE CITY TRUNK OR TREAT 6 – 9
KINGS ALLEY KINGSPORT TRUNK OR TREAT @ FARMERS MARKET 3 – 5
Alpha Natural Resources based in Kingsport Tenenssee which recently emerged from bankruptcy has announced the sell of mostly idle mining properties in West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee to Lexington Coal Company. The move eliminates self bonding by the company nine years early. The sale includes more than 250 permits, five active mines in West Virginia and Kentucky. Lexington Coal will receive 199 million dollars in cash as part of the the transfer. Alpha will continue to operate 20 mines and nine prep plants in West Virginia and expects to produce 14 million tons of coal this year.
The Virginia State Police is investigating a fatal crash that happened in Wise County on Oct. 20.
According to a VSP news release, the crash happened on Route 23, less than a mile south of Route 823, around 1:30 p.m.
VSP officials said a 2004 Chevrolet Impala was traveling south on Route 23 when it ran off the right side of the road. The driver reportedly overcorrected the vehicle, causing the Impala to cross over the southbound lanes, run off the left side of the road, where it then landed in the median overturned.
The driver of the Impala, Amanda R. Vanover, 43, of Big Stone Gap, Va., was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center, where she later died on Oct. 22.
VSP said Vanover was not wearing a seat belt.
According to the release, the crash remains under investigation.
WCYB-WISE COUNTY, VA - The current law in Wise County does not allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays, but travel up the road a few miles to any of the towns within the county, and it's a different story.
"Each independent jurisdiction has the right to decide on their own, the sale of wine and beer in their specific jurisdiction," says Commonwealth's attorney for Wise County and Norton, Chuck Slemp.
Alcohol sales on Sunday is legal in each of the six jurisdictions within Wise County as well as the city of Norton. The question on the ballot is for the businesses that lie outside of any town borders, but still within the county of Wise. Those include vineyards, country clubs, and several convenience stores.
"They may be less than a mile or so to a town border, so they might have competition just a mile down the road where it's permitted, whereas in the county it's not permitted," Slemp says.
Mountain Rose Vineyards is one of those businesses, outside town borders, but within county limits.
"Someone drives up every Sunday, and they have to either drive through and see the sign closed, or we walk out and say we're sorry, we're not open on Sunday," says co-owner of Mountain Rose Vineyards, Suzanne Lawson.
Lawson says permitting alcohol sales on Sundays would not only boost her business, but it could also increase tourism in Wise County.
"We're hoping that those Sunday sales would bring in people to us who would then go eat someplace in the community, and would stay somewhere overnight, and just keep those tourists a little longer," Lawson says.
Citizens will vote on Sunday alcohol sales in Wise County on November 7th.
JACKSON, Ky. (WYMT) - Police in Breathitt County are asking for your help finding a missing woman.
According to the Jackson Police Department, Heather Taulbee was last seen at her job at KFC late Saturday night.
If you have any information about Taulbee’s whereabouts, please call the Jackson Police Department at (606) 666-2424.
A Rogersville man is arrested after police say he hit and killed a Surgoinsville resident in his truck after an argument. 22-year-old Edmund Earl Stanley is charged with second degree murder and is arraigned in connection with the death of 48-year-old Ricky Golden. Stanley is currently being held on a $150,000 bond.