State Police still seek motive in Va. Tech murder-suicide

This story originally appeared on Google+.

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office is continuing its efforts to identify a motive in the murder-suicide that occurred Dec. 8, 2011, on the Virginia Tech campus. State police investigators worked through the weekend and on into this week interviewing family, friends and acquaintances of Ross T. Ashley, 22, in order to piece together his movements and actions leading up to the murder of Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse.

Despite investigators’ non-stop pursuit of this case, there still remains no prior connection or contact between Ashley and Officer Crouse. The Virginia State Police High-Tech Crimes Unit has been extensively reviewing Officer Crouse’s in-car camera video and surveillance video from on and off the campus. State police have secured surveillance video that does place Ashley at a local retail store in the Town of Blacksburg on Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 7).

The .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun used in both shootings was legally purchased by Ashley from a licensed, Virginia gun dealer. He purchased the weapon in January 2011. (For more information on Virginia law pertaining to the purchase of a handgun, go to )

*Timeline (Please note that times are approximate)*

12/7/11 – 11:25 a.m. – At gunpoint, Ashley steals a 2011 white Mercedes SUV from Gilbert Real Estate in the 600 block of Calhoun Street in the City of Radford.

12/7/11 – 12:11 p.m. – City of Radford Police issue multi-state teletype message to law enforcement for a “Be on the Lookout” for the stolen Mercedes SUV.

12/7/11 – Later that afternoon, surveillance video places Ashley inside a Town of Blacksburg retailer. This video was not discovered by investigators until Thursday Dec. 8 – when they were conducting their investigation into the murder-suicide.

12/8/11 – 9:30 a.m. The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) notifies Blacksburg Police of an abandoned vehicle parked on a gravel drive near the VTTI complex. Police immediately respond, confirm the vehicle is the stolen Mercedes SUV and notify Radford Police.

12/8/11 – 12:15 p.m. –Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse has stopped a car in the Coliseum parking lot along Washington Street near the intersection of Spring Road. Officer Crouse is seated inside his unmarked patrol car when Ashley approaches the officer and fatally shoots him. Ashley then flees on foot from the scene.

12/8/11 – 12:45 p.m. – As law enforcement search the campus for the shooting suspect, a Montgomery County Deputy Sheriff spots a male pedestrian walking by himself in the “Cage” parking lot along Duck Pond Drive. As the deputy drives towards the man, he momentarily loses sight of him. When the deputy finally reaches the subject, the man is on the ground and deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

12/8/11 5:20 p.m. – Outside of the Greenhouses, police recover a backpack containing a wool cap and pullover worn by Ashley at the time of Officer Crouse’s shooting. At this stage of the investigation, state police investigators have found no connection between Ashley and a handwritten message on the wall of one of the Greenhouses.

The Virginia State Police, with the assistance of local and federal law enforcement, have executed search warrants during the course of the investigation. Because this is still an ongoing investigation, the warrants remain sealed at this time.

Virginia State Police has been assisted during the course of this active investigation by the Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Christiansburg and Radford City police departments, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, FBI and Secret Service.

BREAKING: Republicans take control of the Virginia State Senate – (maybe)

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Assuming current unofficial results hold, the Virginia State Senate has just switched hands with Republicans gaining two seats to form a 20-20 tie, allowing Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling to cast deciding votes.

Control of the senate rested on the results of a nail-biter in district 17 where Republican Bryce E. Reeves edged Democrat R. Edward “Edd” Houck by just 86 votes, or .2%, out of 45,056 cast. An apparent glitch in heavily Republican Spotsylvania County precinct 303 had incorrectly shown only a handful of votes cast earlier.

Republicans already hold all three statewide offices and control the House of Delegates by a wide margin. The GOP last had total control of the commonwealth from 2000 to 2002.

Published in: on November 8, 2011 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

5.9 earthquake rocks, Virginia, D.C.

Strongest Virginia quake since 1879 damages apartment water lines here

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

On Tuesday, Aug. 23, as people in the Northern Shenandoah Valley braced for possible inland rains and wind from Hurricane Irene’s projected path north up the Eastern Seaboard they got an unexpected jolt.

At 1:51 PM as this reporter was having lunch with a friend at Elements on South Royal Avenue the building was shaken by what was reported to be a 5.9 magnitude earthquake centered 4 miles from both Louisa and Mineral, Virginia. A quick map check of the USGS website indicated the epicenter triangulated by Charlottesville to the west, Fredericksburg and Richmond to the northeast and southeast, respectively.

According to the USGS the earthquake was centered at 38N latitude and 78W longitude in an area known as the Central Virginia Seismic Zone. Weaker earthquakes in the 4.0 range to 5.0 range are reported as typical of this zone.

ABC TV 7 in DC reported the quake to be the strongest one in Virginia since 1879.

The USGS reports that 4.0 quakes can typically be felt 60 miles away and 5.0 quake as far away as 300 miles, with damage typical as far as 25 miles from the epicenter of a 5.0 quake.

The Associated Press reported that two nuclear reactors operated by Dominion Power in Louisa County near Lake Anna within 25 miles of Mineral were undamaged. Those reactors were automatically shut down near the time of the quake. Four emergency diesel generators were operating key safety systems at the nuclear plants, according to AP.

The quake rolled through Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and into the Northern Shenandoah Valley. One co-patron at our Tuesday afternoon lunch stop, Edward Jones broker George Karnes, estimated what he felt as a 2.0 to 2.5 tremor. We were unable to verify or dispute Karnes’ guess at the strength of the quake as it reached Front Royal.

Local damage

Property Manager Teresa Cherry of the Shenandoah Commons Apartment Complex off Westminster Drive told us initial reports indicated damage, primarily to water lines, in nine of 10 buildings in the complex. Some residents allowed to return to their apartments were advised not to use their stoves that evening. However following an inspection of all units it appeared only five residents and two pets were in need of temporary accommodations to facilitate repairs.

On the scene at Shenandoah Commons at 5 PM, County Fire and Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano said it seemed the county would not have to open an emergency shelter at one of the public high schools due to the small number of displaced residents. Local Red Cross has traditionally been able to utilize local motels for families displaced by residential fires in the county.

DC area damage

Some 70 miles to our east, where nerves are usually a bit more taught due to the national political machinations for control or destruction of the federal governmental apparatus, the U.S. Capitol and other federal buildings were evacuated due to the rolling tremor. DC-area TV reports showed large numbers of people milling about outside buildings in downtown Washington, including headquarters of the Washington Post.

Despite the evacuation of their building, the Post reported the quake was felt as far north as Boston, as far south as Anderson, South Carolina, and northwest to Columbus, Ohio.

The Virginia Department of Transportation initially reported no known damage to bridges or roadways. However damage reports began rolling in as the afternoon progressed.

A spire was reported to have collapsed at National Cathedral in DC, closing that building to the public. News 7 DC also reported that a building on the 6100 block of Oxon Hill Road in Prince Georges County, Maryland had collapsed. No initial details on the type or age of that building were available.

Our initial experience of the earthquake was at our downtown lunch stop. Several customers quickly recognized the source of the vibrations and rattling silverware as an earthquake. When several Elements customers countered they believed a nearby train was the culprit, another asked, “WHAT train?”

Elements owner David Gedney, who rushed outside to check his building exterior, returned quickly to report that his damage was limited to five broken plates upstairs in his Apartment 2G dinner restaurant.

Rockland report

As the quake rolled through Rockland our northside correspondent Malcolm Barr Sr. and his wife Carol were in their kitchen. Barr, a self-acclaimed veteran of many earthquakes while working in Hawaii, strolled to his front door to see “what piece of heavy equipment neighbor Thomas McGeath was driving by on Rockland Road.” Meanwhile, Barr reported his wife was talking “Armageddon” and their future daughter-in-law in Tennessee called to see if everyone was okay.

Echoing initial reactions by some of our fellow Elements lunchtime patrons, Barr observed, “Sounded like a train rumbling by.”

While used to such occurrences during his stints in Hawaii, Barr added, “I guess since we don’t have many earthquakes around here, I couldn’t quite believe my wife when she said we were in the middle of one. Those in Hilo (Hawaii) regularly bounced things off the walls; then one of the volcanoes would treat us to another ‘fireworks’ display.”

This report will be updated as information becomes available.

Residents of 25 Shenandoah Commons Way await verdict on whether they will be able to sleep at home following earthquake damage to water lines in their building.

Residents of 25 Shenandoah Commons Way await verdict on whether they will be able to sleep at home following earthquake damage to water lines in their building.

WC Fire & Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano speaks with Shenandoah Commons residents.

WC Fire & Rescue Officer Marti Viggiano speaks with Shenandoah Commons residents.

TV 7 DC shows photo of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant after emergency diesel generators kicked in following automatic shutdown of the nuclear reactors after earthquake.

TV 7 DC shows photo of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant after emergency diesel generators kicked in following automatic shutdown of the nuclear reactors after earthquake.

Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 4:12 pm  Comments (3)  

McDonnell vetoes gerrymandered redistricting plan (FULL TEXT)

View this document on Scribd

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Gov. Bob McDonnell has vetoed General Assembly redistricting plans saying that he has “significant issues” with the senate reapportionment plan.

While the House of Delegates redistricting plan passed with bipartisan support, the senate plan was criticized for efforts to gerrymander democrats into safe districts and put four Republican senators into two districts. In one case, Sen. Steve Newman of Forest and Sen. Ralph Smith of Roanoke were put into a sprawling district that would have been a four hour round trip from Lynchburg to the West Virginia state line with much of the path through Jefferson National Forest.

In vetoing House Bill 5001, McDonnell sent both chambers’ plans back since they were in the same bill. While McDonnell indicated that the house plan would benefit from some tweaking, the Republican Gov. praised its less partisan approach.

Specifically, McDonnell said the proposed senate districts were not compact and did not properly preserve locality lines and communities of interest.

In a statement released shortly after McDonnell’s announcement, Sen. Newman said McDonnel’s veto was “a wise decision given the impact the Senate plan would have imposed on many of the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

“If an individual near the West Virginia border must travel to Central Virginia to see his or her state senator, a part of our democracy is lost. Similarly if a person on Main Street in Lynchburg must seek out their state senator down near the North Carolina border when three other senators are closer, it diminishes trust in the representative system,” he said.

The Senate plan passed on a straight party-line vote.

Redistricting plans are available online here.

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm  Comments (1)  

Obama holding military families hostage, Trump the ‘Apprentice Candidate’ – Gingrich

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

Audio and transcript at

LYNCHBURG – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said President Barack Obama is holding military families hostage in his budget battle with House Republicans and said that potential Republican rival Donald Trump’s newest show is ‘being Apprentice Candidate.’

Speaking at The Awakening 2011 conference at Liberty University on the eve of a potential government shutdown Apr. 8, the potential Republican presidential hopeful said that the government “doesn’t have to shut down today if the President is willing to work with the House Republicans one, to not have the military as a hostage, which as an army brat I find very offensive. I mean this idea that he won’t pay for the military for a year and take care of military families while they’re risking their lives for America I find, frankly, pretty darned offensive.”

Gingrich faced his own budget showdown with former President Bill Clinton that led to a government shutdown in 1995. He had some advice for the current president and Speaker John Boehner. “Maybe they’d be better off to break the bill into three or four components and try to solve one of them a week and keep the government rolling one week at a time. That might be the most practical way to do it. I don’t think a shutdown is unavoidable but of course they are running out of time,” he said.

Gingrich said he thinks blame for a shutdown will split along ideological lines but that most Americans think the government is spending too much money. “ Virtually every survey says the American people want a smaller deficit and less spending and they want a smaller government in Washington. I know of no survey that doesn’t generally say the country thinks this scale of deficit is impossible to sustain and so I would say the country will ultimately sort it out,” he said.

Gingrich laughed when asked his thoughts on fellow Republican Donald Trump’s statement that he had a ‘team of investigators’ combing through records in search of President Obama’s birth certificate. “I think that the Donald is such an interesting person in every way that being ‘Apprentice Candidate’ is his newest show. He’s a terrific guy. He adds a lot to the race. I can’t imagine what he’ll announce by tomorrow. He’s very inventive and I think frankly for a Republican party that is sometimes a little bit dull having somebody like Trump hang out is going to guarantee that you all have a lot more to cover. I think he is seriously inventive and I think he will have many things, none of which I intend to comment on,” he said.

Audio and transcript at

Published in: on April 8, 2011 at 5:11 pm  Comments (5)  

(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  

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)  

Town gets its terms on Dominion Power H2O

Dominion Power Director of Business Development John Ragone and Front Royal Town Councilman Shae Parker shake on a deal for central water and sewer to Dominion's billion-dollar business investment in this community.

Absent Conkey blasts county silence on help with corridor expenses

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

After two weeks of intense negotiations the Front Royal Town Council approved a final version of a contract to provide central water and sewer service to Dominion Power/VEPCO’s gas-fired electrical generating facility in Warren County’s 522 North Industrial-Commercial Corridor. The planned power plant formerly known as CPV-Warren since being introduced as a means of helping meet future eastern, urban corridor power needs in 2002, is now targeted for a 2015 or 2016 opening following a 2-1/2 to 3-year construction period.

The vote came at a Special Meeting called for March 7th in the midst of a previously scheduled town council work session. The 5-0 vote, Tom Conkey was absent, came after some last minute closed session discussion. The only substantive change in the terms of the contract originally on the table since a Feb. 22nd work session was a wording change that the removed the description of the town water service as essentially an accommodation to the customer while the town has “excess capacity” in its water supply.

As explained by officials on both sides of the negotiation, that change was requested by Dominion, which did not want to go before a pending State Corporation Committee rate hearing with a utility contract essentially stating the plant’s water service could be terminated by the provider – the Town of Front Royal – at any time it deemed its water service as exclusively needed by in-town customers. The lifespan of the plant has been estimated by Dominion at half a century.

Despite not getting an additional five years of in-town service rates to compensate for a requested total of $5.4 million in up-front expenses, Dominion officials seemed relieved to get a contract guarantee in place that will allow them to explain their desired rate structure to the SCC and move development of the plant forward.

“I think we’re pleased with what happened tonight with the agreement that was reached,” Dominion spokesperson Dan Genest said following the vote. “We plan to be a part of this community for the next 40 to 50 years – and being a part of that community means getting along and working things out and settling our differences and I think the agreement tonight represents that.”

While Dominion had been seeking a reduction in up-front costs of $5.4 million, including $4 million in capital improvements to the existing system, in the end it agreed to pay those costs in exchange for a decade of reduced service costs. However, Dominion did not get the additional five years at the flat, in-town service rate it had been seeking in exchange for a $3.5-million contribution to implement a long-sought after looping system to assure service to all corridor water customers in the event of a break in the water line. Rather, the company will get the originally proposed five years at the in-town rate and an additional five years at 1.5 times the in-town rate before paying the full double rate to out-of-town customers.

While county Supervisor Tony Carter was again an interested observer to the evening’s developments, the county’s ongoing official silence on the matter of helping the town or Dominion defer their respective costs didn’t sit well with at least one councilman, Tom Conkey. Conkey and other town officials involved in the negotiation have pointed out the town will receive only its hook up and service costs, by law based solely on the cost of providing a municipal utility, while the county will realized between $3 million and $4 million per year in tax revenue almost exclusively profit.

“My only disappointment is that it seems that at least some members of the board of supervisors still see the relationship between the town and county governments as an adversarial one, rather than the partnership I believe it can and should be,” Conkey stated by way of a letter read into the record by Mayor Tim Darr. Darr explained Conkey was absent due to a previous out of town commitment. “The town’s discussions with Dominion were open and frank as partnerships should be. I think this was the perfect opportunity for our two bodies to work together to come up with an arrangement that would be mutually beneficial. As it is, we now find ourselves in the position of working our a deal with Dominion and hoping that we have done enough to ensure that this power plant is built in this community,” Conkey concluded in his letter sent to the mayor to be included as part of the meeting’s public record.


The town’s exiting corridor water-sewer system began service about a quarter century ago when town utility was extended outside its boundaries to facilitate the location of the county’s first new industrial corridor client, DuPont, to build here. That utility service extension was seen as pivotal to this community attracting an increased commercial-industrial presence and tax base to keep residential costs and taxes down.

Following the 2009 legal challenge of meals tax-based fees tied to the town’s water-sewer bills by three chain corridor restaurants, the town lost a major portion of its “Corridor Agreement” fees. According to the judge’s comments, that legal decision came about in part at least due to the changing corridor tax landscape, primarily the county’s 2002 introduction of its own meals tax.

The town and county have only recently began “corridor committee” discussions of how to adjust the 1998 Corridor Agreement designed to compensate the town for its utility service allowing business and industry to locate on county land. That agreement, approved by a 3-judge state panel in 1998-99, likely headed off a contentious annexation fight between Front Royal and Warren County’s municipal governments.

Dominion had initially agreed to cover the full $490,000 cost of upgrading the system’s pumping system to assure its estimated average of 350,000 to 400,000 gallons of water per day without placing an undue strain on the system. However, it was seeking help in meeting the capital improvement expense of a looping system seen as a system-wide benefit to all corridor customers in Warren County. Some councilmen, obviously including Conkey, thought it would have been appropriate for the county to step into the recent negotiations after Dominion complained about all the additional rate and infrastructure costs it was being asked to shoulder.

The county did have a closed session “corridor contract” discussion with Dominion at its March 1st meeting. However, no announcement was forthcoming following that session.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 2:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Alleged White House Gate Crashers Talk Dr. Drew, Release Iphone App

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

This story has been updated.

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 7, 2011 at 8:12 pm  Comments (2)  

Battle to contain forest fire shifts to Skyline Drive

Firefighters continue to battle a 2,000 acre wildfire that has closed a portion of Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park near Front Royal, Va. Courtesy photo/Jennifer Sheen

Discussion and live audio of Warren County Fire and Rescue radio traffic available on

By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report

A version of this story appears on The Huffington Post.

SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK — Approximately 70 federal, state and local firefighters are currently on the ground battling a wildfire that has spread to 2,000 acres of Shenandoah National Park, causing the closing of the northern portion of the popular and normally scenic Skyline Drive.

60 more firefighters are en route to the park, according to spokesperson Karen Beck-Herzog.

Beck-Herzog said the fire started on private land in Warren County, just to the west of the park. It was first reported to park officials at 10 am Saturday. No cause has been determined.

The fire grew rapidly overnight due to high winds and is now moving on the surface of the forest floor feeding on hardwood leaf litter and down trees, she said.

Beck-Herzog said the fire is located near Jenkins Gap near Milepost 12 on Skyline Drive.

Warren County officials said Saturday that a second large fire near Linden had been largely contained but not before claiming two homes and causing residents to flee to evacuation shelters set up in a community center and nearby Skyline High School.

Discussion and live audio of Warren County Fire and Rescue radio traffic available on

Dan McDermott:

Related posts:

Warren County hit by major wildland fires

Firefighters from across the country headed to Shenandoah National Park

Published in: on February 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm  Comments (4)  
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