Local Headlines for Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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Escapee still on the loose:

The Martinsville Sheriff’s Office is continuing to search for Dekey Penn, a trustee who escaped Sept. 13. “Dekey was a trustee on the back of a garbage truck,” Martinsville Sheriff Steve Draper said. “They were working the west side of Martinsville when Dekey jumped from the truck around Fayette Street, at the former Paradise Inn. He removed his cap and orange vest behind the former Paradise and walked away.” Draper said Penn originally was convicted of child endangerment, was on probation after he was released from jail, violated his probation and was incarcerated in June of this year.

DMV fees could increase:

The costs keep coming for lawmakers on Virginia’s budget committees, now faced with an estimated $16.4 million operating shortfall at the Department of Motor Vehicles and a bill of $1.1 million — and counting — for repairing and ultimately rebuilding the Virginia State Police’s stricken email network. The DMV estimated Monday that its shortfall could total $66.5 million for 2016 to 2022, a figure that had been almost $28 million higher before Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave executive approval earlier this year for a $1 fee increase on information products provided by the state’s most visible government operation. DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said the solution is either to raise the agency’s share of fees for vehicle titling, registration or driver’s licenses, r allow it to keep more of the money it collects for other state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health.

Beware of Bears:

There are an estimated 17,000 bears in Virginia and yet bear attacks are extremely rare. Douthat State Park has been closed while authorities search for a bear that attacked a woman Sunday afternoon. Bear traps have been set up on the trails. She told rangers she was walking her dog near Tuscarora Overlook when the attack occurred. Her injuries were to her legs and she was able to walk out on her own. Remember, always be aware of your surroundings, and if you find yourself in the presence of a bear – don’t run, get loud, get big, and walk away. Consider this – the number one killer in the woods is not a bear, but a bee, accounting for 53 deaths a year. Dogs account for 31, horses 20, spiders 6, and rattlesnakes 5. You are more likely to be mauled by a shark than a bear.

House Destroyed by Fire:

Fire destroyed a home on the Vandola Road Monday afternoon. Volunteers from six Pittsylvania County fire departments responded but were prevented from making an interior attack because of exploding ammunition inside the house. Robert Ragans was awakened by the smell of smoke and managed to crawl out a window and rescue his three dogs. He was treated at SOVAH Health for smoke inhalation. Firefighters were still dousing hot spots late in the day and had not been able to determine a cause. The house and its contents were destroyed.

Veteran’s Award Nominations Now Being Accepted:

Nominations are now being accepted for the Martinsville-Henry County “Outstanding Military Veteran” award for 2017. The award will go to the nominee judged by the selection committee to best represent what service to the country and to our community means. Nomination forms are available from the Martinsville website – www.martinsville-va.gov and the County website – www.henrycountyva.gov.  They are also available at the City Municipal Building and the County Administrator’s office.  All nominations must be received at the City Manager’s Office or County Administrator’s Office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 6, 2017. The winner of the award will be announced at the Veterans Day Service to be held at the HJDB Event Center on Friday, November 11 at 6:00 p.m. Questions about the “Outstanding Military Veteran” award can be directed to the City Manager’s Office or the County Administrator’s Office.