The Lynchburg Times 3/31/2011

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Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

(AUDIO) McDonnell talks Clay Athey, Steve Newman, redistricting, Jens Soering, Va. Retirement System, autism and VCU

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

LYNCHBURG — Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spoke to reporters Wed. March 30 at a ribbon cutting in Lynchburg just one day after Senate Democrats and House Republicans released their respective plans for new legislative lines in the Commonwealth.

The senate plan groups four Republicans into two senate districts. In one case, Sen. Steve Newman’s district runs two hours from Lynchburg through the Jefferson National Forest to the West Virginia state line and includes the home of Sen. Ralph Smith.

McDonnell said he hadn’t looked at the plans closely but said they must be contiguous, compact and meet the legal qualifications of the Federal Voting Rights Act.

Gov. McDonnell addressed his long-time advisor and colleague Del. Clay Athey’s decision not to seek re-election this fall. McDonnell said Athey indicated that he would most likely retire two months ago and his Warren County district has been divided among four neighboring delegates.

McDonnell said the Virginia Retirement system needs to be changed or it will run out of money and that convicted murderer Jens Soering should remain in prison and in Virginia.

McDonnell says he has made several recommendations for changes to a bill for autism insurance and that he is headed for Texas Saturday to watch the VCU game.

Complete transcript and audio are at

Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Warren County split into three Delegate districts

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Va. Del. Chris Jones has released the Republican plan for redistricting of the 100 House of Delegates districts. Del. Clay Athey’s district 18 has been split into at least three pieces. See story on Del. Athey’s political retirement.

Current House District 18 (Del. Athey’s district)

Proposed new House districts splitting Warren County

Related stories:

Athey ending House of Delegates career

Gov. McDonnell statement on Athey House retirement

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Gov. McDonnell statement on Athey House retirement

Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today regarding the announcement that Del. Clifford L. “Clay” Athey, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, will not seek re-election to the House of Delegates this fall:

“Clay has been a trusted representative of his constituents in Warren, Frederick and Fauquier counties, a valued associate, and a good friend during his decade of service to the Commonwealth in the Virginia House of Delegates. His dedication to his constituents is reflective of the type of person he is, and his decision to focus on his young children Madagan and Clayton and his loving wife Stacey demonstrate the values, honesty and focus that have made him a principled and highly effective legislator.

“Clay has been a solid leader and advocate while serving as the vice chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee, and as an active partner on the Education, Health, Welfare and Institutions, and Militia, Police and Public Safety committees.

“His energetic, focused, and strong leadership on a host of issues throughout his tenure has been highly effective in protecting the interests and safety of his constituents and Virginians statewide. Clay’s passion for public service and his keen intellect will be missed in the General Assembly, but will serve as a lasting inspiration to all of those with whom he served.

“I wish Clay the very best in his future endeavors, and thank him for his tremendous service to the people of the Commonwealth.”

Related: Athey ending House of Delegates career

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Athey ending House of Delegates career

Del. Clifford L. “Clay” Athey, Jr. (R-Warren), Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, announced today that he would not be seeking re-election to the Virginia House of Delegates this fall.

Athey commented:

“Following discussions with my family and my colleagues in the General Assembly over the last several months, I have decided not to seek the nomination of my party for a sixth term representing the citizens of Warren, Frederick, and Fauquier County in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

“In the forefront of this family decision is the fact that our children, Madagan and Clayton, who will turn five years old next week, will be attending Kindergarten at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School beginning in September. Since another term in Richmond would require me to be away from my children more than I am willing to endure, Stacey and I decided that standing for re-election at this time would not be in our family’s best interest. To stand for re-election when I believe my children need my undivided attention would be contrary to the values I learned by example from my parents, Phyllis Madagan Athey and Lynwood Athey, as a young boy growing up in the Shenandoah Valley.”

Athey added:

“Although I will certainly miss working with all of my friends at the General Assembly beginning the second Wednesday of each January, I am heartened by the knowledge that the close friendships forged during times of crises and accomplishment over the last ten years can never be extinguished. I will always respect and admire my colleagues in the General Assembly for their commitment to public service and I am sure that the heartfelt feelings of friendship and loyalty we have for our General Assembly family, on both sides of the aisle and in both bodies, shall endure for the rest of our lives”

Athey concluded:

“Finally, the Athey family shall always be appreciative and grateful for the opportunity afforded to us by our constituents during our ten year tenure as their voice in Richmond. Although I am not seeking re-election, our family remains committed to public service as a high calling. Without question, Stacey and I would recommend a life in public service to any young person of high ideals. However, as families in Warren, Frederick, and Fauquier County well understand, the most important task in my family’s life is the proper Christian upbringing of these two precocious, precious, inquisitive and intelligent children who our blessed Savior brought into our lives almost five years ago. Therefore any future public service commitment for our family must necessarily allow their father to be at home in the evenings and on weekends to attend their various games and events.”

Related: Gov. McDonnell statement on Athey House retirement

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Comments (2)  

The Late March, 2011 edition of Warren County Report

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Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Va. State Police investigate fatal shootings in Buchanan County

By Corinne Geller
Virginia State Police

[Correction: Grundy National Bank is not taking the donations. The “Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office Memorial Fund for Deputies” will now be administered through the Sheriff’s Office at PO Box 970 Grundy , VA 24614]

RICHMOND – The Virginia State Police is continuing its investigation into Sunday’s shooting incident that seriously injured two Buchanan County Deputy Sheriffs, and claimed the lives of two other Buchanan County Deputy Sheriffs. The assailant, Randy Gilbert Newberry, 52, of Vansant, was also shot and killed.

At approximately 3 p.m. Sunday (March 13, 2011), the owner of Rogers Service Center, a salvage business, on Route 620 in Vansant called 911 concerning a larceny in progress on his property. Upon arriving at the business, two Buchanan County Deputy Sheriffs Eric Dwayne Rasnake and Shane Earl Charles began their search for the larceny suspect, Newberry, and investigating the larceny. Within minutes, the two deputies were shot multiple times from a distance by a high-powered rifle. Both were able to crawl to a nearby residence in attempt to take cover and call for help.

Additional sheriff’s deputies and the Virginia State Police responded immediately to the scene. As a perimeter was being established to contain and search for the active shooter, Deputy Sheriffs Cameron Neil Justus and William Ezra Stiltner were shot and killed by a high-powered rifle.

At this point, the shooter left his hiding place on the ridge in the wood-line and ran to another nearby residence about a quarter of a mile up the road from the salvage business. Police tracked Newberry to the house and found him in the front yard talking on cell phone. They repeatedly told him to put up his hands and get on the ground. Newberry stayed on the cell phone with his back to the officers and ignored their commands. When he did turn around he pulled out and aimed a handgun at the officers. He was subsequently shot. Newberry died at the scene.

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Wytheville Field Office is conducting the investigation into the incidents. A search of the area around the business revealed Newberry’s sniper location on a ridge in the wood-line overlooking the property. Multiple cartridge casings from a high-powered rifle were recovered at that location. Several police vehicles at the scene of the salvage property had also been shot.

Virginia State Police, Russell County Sheriff’s Office, Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and FBI responded to the scene Sunday to assist with the search and investigation.

Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff Cameron Neil Justus, 41, of Hurley, Va., and Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff William Ezra Stiltner, 46, of Maxie, Va., both died at the scene. A 10-year veteran of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Justus is survived by a wife, daughter, and step-son. A seven-year veteran of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Stiltner is survived by a wife and two children.

Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff Eric Dwayne Rasnake, 32, of Jewell Ridge, Va., remains in ICU at the Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tenn. Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff Shane Earl Charles, 25, of Maxie, Va., is being treated at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn. Both deputies are listed in critical condition.

A “Deputy Relief Fund” has been set up to aid all four of the victims and their families through the Grundy National Bank. Please contribute by mailing a donation to PO Box 970 Grundy , VA 24614.

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office has 33 sworn officers, with a total of 46 sworn and civilian employees. The last time a Buchanan County Deputy Sheriff was killed in the line of duty was approximately 40 years ago.

The public is invited to attend a candlelight vigil Monday night, March 14, at the Buchanan County Courthouse in Grundy at 7 p.m. Local churches will also be open to the public for those in need of support.

A version ofthis story originally appeared on

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm  Comments (4)  

Former Va. pawn shop owner pleads guilty to federal gun charges

Photo of the original gun bust and full text of the remarks by U.S. Attorney Tim Heaphy at

By Brian P. McGinn
Public Affairs Specialist
United States Attorney’s Office,
Western District of Virginia

FRONT ROYAL, VIRGINIA — The former owner of a Front Royal pawn shop pled guilty this morning in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville to charges related to the illegal sale of firearms.

Don Francis Simonpietri, 64, of Front Royal, Virginia, pled guilty this morning to one count of selling firearms without a license and one count of knowingly selling a firearm to a previously convicted felon. As part of his plea agreement, the defendant has agreed to forfeit more than 1,100 guns to the United States. The maximum penalty faced by the defendant at sentencing is 10 years in prison and a period of supervised release thereafter.

Today in District Court, Simonpietri admitted that after losing his Federal Firearms License in 2005, he continued to engage in the business of selling firearms, often selling guns at a local flea market. He also admitted to selling a firearm to a person he knew, or should have known, was a previously convicted felon.

The charges were brought following a lengthy investigation by local law enforcement in which a series of undercover gun purchases were made directly from Mr. Simonpietri, or his codefendant, Charles Shipe.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Front Royal Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Virginia State Police, the Warren County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force. Assistant United States Ronald Huber prosecuted the case for the United States.

Published in: on March 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Three arrested on Georgia warrants, drugs

By Daniel T. McEathron
Sheriff, Warren County

On March 8, 2011 at approximately 9:15 p.m. Warren County Sheriff’s deputies assisted U.S. Marshals with the execution of fugitive arrest warrants. The deputies and U.S. Marshals arrested Stephen Damon Ferguson, age 31, of Rambo Court, Linden, VA on a probation violation extradition warrant from the State of Georgia. Also arrested was Robert Joe Farmer, age 35, of 90 Rambo Court, Linden, VA on a failure to appear on assault and battery, cruelty to children, terroristic threats extradition warrant from the State of Georgia.

During the execution of the arrests at 90 Rambo Court, illegal narcotics were observed, which resulted in the felony arrest of Ricky Brian Henry, age 30, of 90 Rambo Court, Linden, VA for possession with intent to sell or distribute more than five pounds of marijuana. The narcotics case was turned over to the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force.

Stephen Damon Ferguson and Robert Joe Farmer are currently being held without bond at the Warren County Jail. Ricky Brian Henry was released on a $10,000 secured bond.

Published in: on March 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

UPDATE: Michaele Salahi kicked off Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab? Tareq evicted from Lohan’s pad?

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Michaele Salahi has been asked to leave Dr. Drew Pinsky’s VH1 show Celebrity Rehab because she has no addiction, according to celebrity gossip site TMZ.

Earlier today, Radar Online reported that Michael Lohan–with cameras rolling–left rehab to kick Michaele hubby Tareq Salahi out of the apartment Michael and Tareq were sharing because Tareq allegedly refused (or couldn’t?) pay his share of the rent.


I’m not making this up.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi released a statement Monday that says two things: a) Michaele is seeking help from Dr. Drew Pinsky for “private pains and personal struggles she endured” following her alleged crashing of President Barack Obama’s first White House state dinner and b) she has released a new Iphone app that lets users “Crash any party with Michaele.”

The statement almost, semi, sort of confirms that Michaele is set to appear on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab. After stating “we are unable to discuss any Television Shows/projects in development” it proceeds to do just that:

“Whatever new show she is participating in, it will be a focus for her on the private pains and personal struggles she endured that resulted from the White House issues, Congress and how these life changing events affected her Multiple Sclerosis. Michaele Salahi is consulting with Dr. Drew and she hopes he will be able to assist her about everything she has endured over the last year.”

Hubby Tareq Salahi told TMZ that he is crashing at Michael Lohan’s place while the show is being taped and said his wife isn’t addicted to anything except perhaps “love and chocolate” and claims Michaele has never even had a drink.

Speaking of love, the title of the couple’s new all-things-Michaele app is “LoveYou!” It promises “Cutting-Edge Technology to Provide Exclusive New Features and Closer Interaction With Fans.”

In addition to offering Michaele quizzes, personal photos and even a playlist of her favorite songs, the app allows users to “Crash a Party with Michaele: Fans can easily insert Michaele into any of their photos, which can be saved, e-mailed and shared with friends on Twitter and Facebook. Now you can crash any party with Michaele.”

The first review of their new app on iTunes is not kind.

In a critique entitled “Rehab needed for this app for reals” VeganisAwesome writes:

“I’m an absolute Real Housewives fan, but this app is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. A complete copy of Paris Hilton’s app produced by the same company. If you want to know where to find tanning salons or have the words HOT and FUN relentlessly and repeatedly annoy you from you iphone then by all means go for it. No wonder it was free.”

Fear not Android fans, the Salahis promise a version of the app just for you is in the works.

A version of this story first appeared on The Huffington Post.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 7:09 pm  Comments (10)  
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