One person has been taken to the hospital by helicopter following a school bus crash in Russell County this morning. Virginia State Police reports that the crash happened at around 7:50 a.m. Tuesday on Hawkins Mill Lane. There were 17 students on the school bus when it was rear-ended by a 2003 Honda sedan while at a stop, one student was taken by a parent to be checked due to a headache, but that is the only person on the bus with any injury. The driver of the vehicle had to be removed with assistance from emergency responders and the door had to be pried off to extricate the driver. A med-flight helicopter was sent to the scene and transported the driver to the Bristol Regional Medical Center. A replacement bus took the rest of the students to school after they were examined at the scene.
A man was arrested in Lee County on Tuesday after a traffic stop. The Lee County Sheriff's Office reports that deputies found a Jeep Grand Cherokee heading west from Pennington Gap in the direction of Ben Hur. They attempted to stop the Jeep, but the vehicle kept driving for several hundred yards. It the pulled into a parking lot, where it kept driving before finally coming to a stop on the opposite side. The driver, 50-year-old Mark Smith, of Dryden, was given a sobriety test, which he failed. A search of the Jeep found more than 36 grams of methamphetamine, a partial Xanax pill, 2 unidentified capsules, 2 sets of digital scales, multiple unused baggies, and a Glock 20 10 mm pistol. Smith has been charged with DUID, possession of Schedule I or II drugs with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm while in possession of drugs, possession of Schedule IV drugs, and refusal of a blood test.
The Pound Town Council will hold an emergency meeting tonight to discuss elimination of police force and wastewater in the Pound River. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Thursday night. The council will discuss their recent vote to terminate the entire police department, which was the former chief and a detective. The ongoing sewage spilling into the Pound River will also be discussed by the council this evening. At this time, the town has not been able to locate the source of the problem in order to fix it. Town officials also say that Pound is two years behind on its fiscal year audits. If they were up-to-date, the town would be able to receive $4.2 million in loan and grant money from the Virginia Resources Authority, which would allow them to fix every single issue regarding the treatment facility. The Dickenson County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the mayor on Tuesday that if the spillage was not fixed, legal action could be taken. Only the town council and some citizens of Pound are expected at the meeting.
Dollywood will no longer require fully vaccinated visitors and children 12 and under to wear masks at the park. Dollywood announced on Tuesday that their new policy allows fully vaccinated visitors and those 12 and under to no longer wear a mask or physical distance, both indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated visitors over the age of 12 will still have to wear their mask while inside the park. The new policy reflects the new guidelines released by the CDC last week.
An 18-year-old has been charged with rape of a child in Middlesboro, Kentucky. The Middlesboro Police Department reports that they received a call at around 6:15 a.m. Monday. Justice Bryston Flanary was arrested over three hours later after being accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. Flanary has been charged with first-degree rape of a victim under 12 and has been taken to the Bell County Detention Center.
The Pound police force has disbanded, with the chief and part-time officer being dismissed. The Pound Town Council disbanded the force and dismissed furloughed Police Chief Tony Baker on Tuesday evening. The council voted 3-2, with Mayor Stacey Carson breaking the tie, to disband the department on budgetary grounds. The council heard from more than 75 residents, business owners, and people living just outside the town limits. Baker and part-time officer and former Town Attorney Tim McAfee were furloughed in April. McAfee was also dismissed as the town attorney earlier this year and has a pending $1.32 million breach of contract lawsuit against three council members and the town over his firing.
Dickenson County threatens legal action against the Town of Pound over wastewater leak in the Pound River. The Dickenson County Board of Supervisors has released a statement saying that they were not warned by the town when untreated wastewater was released into tributaries of the river. They had to learn about it when the Virginia Department of Health issued a health advisory after the fact. Affected areas include the Pound River tributary, Flannagan Reservoir, and the Pound River itself. The board expressed concerns that it will affect drinking water, as well as personal use with potential loss of recreational and tourism revenues.
The Board of Supervisors demands that the Town of Pound must:
Senator Tim Kaine introduced a bill on the Senate floor on Wednesday that would curb police overuse of tear gas. The U.S. Senator and former Virginia Governor, introduced the Preventing the Misuse of Tear Gas Act to address state and federal law enforcement's use of tear gas. The bill would require law enforcement agencies to set policies stating that the use of riot control agents like tear gas should be avoided wherever possible against peaceful protesters. It also states police use of tear gas to quell violent activity should minimize any impact on those not participating in the violence. The legislation would require state and local law enforcement agencies to implement such policies and comply with them in order to receive funds under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program and other Department of Justice programs.
Ballad Health will begin providing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 to 15. Ballad announced on Wednesday that they would begin vaccinating those 12 years and over, two days after the FDA gave Pfizer the greenlight to provide children in that age group their COVID-19 vaccines. All Ballad Health community vaccination centers reopened on Thursday, for patients 12 years and older. Walk-ins are accepted, and community members can also schedule appointments to receive their vaccine. Ballad believes that 12-15 year olds are crucial in the health system's effort to establish herd immunity. The health system reports that children and teenagers ages 10 to 19 represent the highest percentage of new COVID-19 cases in the region. Those getting vaccinated must bring a photo ID and if they are between 12 and 17 years old, they must have a parent or guardian present. Ballad has provided more than 42,000 first-dose and 40,000 second-dose vaccines to the region.
The Colonial Pipeline restarted operations at 5 p.m. eastern Wednesday. The company warned that it will take several days for the supply chain to return to normal. They said that some markets may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial states that they will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal. The pipeline delivers about 45 percent of the east coast's gas. The pipeline runs from the Gulf Coast to the New York metropolitan region, but states in the Southeast are more reliant on the pipeline. Panic-buyers flooded gas stations in the east earlier this week, prompting Virginia and North Carolina to issue states of emergency. According to Gasbuddy.com, 44 percent of the gas stations in Virginia were out of gas. The national average price for a gallon of gasoline ticked above $3 for the first time since 2016 on Wednesday.