Mike Goforth has been named the new Wise County Schools Superintendent. At the county's school board meeting Monday night, the board voted 7-0, with member Herb Shortt abstaining, to hire human resources director, Mike Goforth, as the next superintendent of schools. Goforth will replace Greg Mullins, who announced his retirement last month and whose last day will be Thursday, June 30. Goforth, the former principal at Union and John I. Burton High Schools, was selected out of a pool of five candidates, four of which were from within the school system. He also worked in the Bristol, Virginia school system, but returned to Wise County in 2013.
Three people from Wise County plead guilty to fentanyl distribution. The U.S. Attorney's Office reports that Paul Perkins, Austin Lane, and Cheyenne Carico have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl. Perkins is accused of purchasing thousands of pressed pills containing fentanyl from California and had them sent to his home in Big Stone Gap between February 1 to 11 of this year. The postal service intercepted a package for Perkins on February 10 from Costa Mesa, California that contained approximately 1,000 pills containing fentanyl. He had previously sold three pressed pills, for $30 per pill, to Carico and Lane on November 24, 2021. Two of the pills were purchased for a 17-year-old girl, who later was hospitalized due to a drug overdose and spent six days on a ventilator. Another 18-year-old male, who purchased pressed pills from them, was also hospitalized due to an overdose.
Virginia Governor wants 15-week abortion law. Governor Glenn Youngkin announced Friday in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade, the constitutional right to an abortion. Youngkin is asking four Republican state lawmakers to help his administration chart the most successful path forward to legislation in 2023. A Governor spokesperson says that he is seeking a 15-week abortion ban in Virginia after the ruling, but a compromise could come at 20 weeks. Abortions in Virginia will not be impacted by the opinion immediately, as efforts to impose restrictions failed to pass through the General Assembly earlier this year. The Governor has repeatedly said that he is pro-life, but that he supports exceptions for abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and where the mother's life is in danger. Currently, Virginia allows abortions during the second trimester and only afterwards in cases determined by three doctors that the pregnancy could result in the death of the mother or irremediably impair the mental or physical health of the mother.
Man steals nearly $4,000 worth of jewelry from store in Pikeville. The Pikeville Police Department reports that a man walked into Kay Jewelers in Pikeville Wednesday afternoon. He asked to see merchandise from a case and walked out with nearly $4,000 worth of jewelry three minutes later. The suspect left in a gold or silver early 2000's Toyota Camry. He is described as a white man, possibly in his 40's, with brown and gray hair. If anyone has any information, they are asked to call 606-437-5511.
Virginia Department of Energy has declared an abandoned mine emergency in Pound. A home in Pound is located below a surface mine that was in operation until 1975 and the culvert in front of the home was filled by runoff from the mine. The runoff caused the home to become inaccessible. An abandoned mine land grant of $22,055 will be supplied to replace the culvert and the damaged bridge so the home can be accessed. The construction will take place along Bowser Hollow Road and is expected to be complete in a few days.
A death at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail in Duffield last month is under investigation. The Virginia State Police said its Bureau of Criminal Investigation's is investigating the May 20 death of inmate Sheri D. Cook, 43, of Whitesburg, Kentucky. Cook was taken to the jail for processing on the afternoon on May 20 and was secured in a safety chair due to her combative behavior. At around 7 p.m., she was found unresponsive. Cook was taken to a hospital in Wise County where she was pronounced dead. Her body was taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy. State police is still investigating Cook's death.
Big Stone Gap gets funding for camp sites and development at Big Cherry Reservoir. Southwest Virginia leaders are working to connect the popular tourism sites in the region are now seeing some significant funding to move outdoor recreation initiatives forward. The High Knob Initiative Regional Master Plan has formed to eventually connect places like High Knob in Norton, Big Cherry in Big Stone Gap, and the Devil's Bathtub in Scott County. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has allotted $300,000 to begin developing camp sites at Big Cherry. Big Stone Gap is still looking for additional funding sources for the camp sites. They anticipate construction to begin next fall.
Bristol, Virginia man dies in Scott County crash. Virginia State Police reports that the crash occurred Friday morning near Route 689 when a 1988 Ford Ranger was going west on Route 58. The Ranger then went off the right side of the road and hit a tree before overturning. The driver, Derick C. Wood, 34, died at the scene. Wood was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The crash is under investigation by the VSP.
New Peoples Bank updates their customers after loss of service last week. The bank has told their customers that their money is still in safe hands after service loss and instability throughout last weekend. They are still working to reconstruct their computer systems. At this time, New Peoples Bank cannot transfer funds and user balances cannot be accessed. Also, both online banking and bill payment are down. Only drive-thru windows can be used, and the phone services are still down at the Big Stone Gap, Clintwood, Grundy, and Haysi offices. Although, bank customers can receive direct deposits from their employer, access deposit boxes, and withdraw and/or deposit funds in person. Debit cards and ATMs should all function as normal. No late or overdraft fees will be charged that are caused by the incident.
Former grocery store was the site of a massive fire in Lee County Friday. The Lee County Sheriff's Office reports that the fire occurred at the former Save A-Lot building on Highway 58 at 2:30 p.m. Friday. No one was reportedly injured in the fire, but several nearby trees were burned.