A look back at 2007’s headlines

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 3, 2008

Jan. 5

FRANKLIN—A house and car in the 400 block of Chestnut Street were &uot;riddled with bullet holes&uot; during a New Year’s Day shooting, but there were no injuries as a result of the crime, police said.

Officers responded to the 9:42 p.m. call and recovered shell casings at the scene, but they were unable to find a suspect at the time.

BOYKINS—A change to its curfew, along with additional patrols by its small police department ,have resulted in decreasing vandalism and the arrests of some people suspected of participating in a recent spate of burglaries in the town of Boykins.

Mayor Spier Edwards said that the town council had voted to change its existing curfew to require that anyone under the age of 18 be off the town’s streets and sidewalks after 11 p.m., unless accompanied by an adult guardian.

&uot;We figured the less people we have on the street hanging out,&uot; he said, &uot;the less problems we would have.&uot;

Jan. 10

FRANKLIN—Langston Street is the site of 10 single-family homes that are part of a revitalization project. The homes are being built

by the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project (STOP) organization — five of them are already occupied or sold, and five more are under construction and awaiting new owners.

According to Franklin Development and Planning Director Donald Goodwin, who briefed Franklin City Council on the progress of the project, is seeking qualified applicants for these new homes. STOP provides programs and services for low- to moderate-income individuals and families. The homes average three bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and about 2,000 square feet of living space.

Jan. 12

FRANKLIN—Two young volunteer firefighters who briefly held paid positions in the city’s fire department now find themselves not just off the city’s payroll but also unable to continue volunteering their services.

Jeffrey Holt and Richard Carr, sons of Franklin Fire Chief Vince Holt and Deputy Chief Mark Carr, were fired Jan. 5, on their third day at work, after city officials determined that the young men’s employment at the fire department ran counter to the city’s rules against nepotism.

Jan. 17

FRANKLIN—A federal and state holiday Monday helped mitigate the problems caused when power to much of the city was knocked out for more than an hour.

Banks and some other business were already closed, and some other companies were operating with smaller staffs than usual, because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Still, the 1 p.m. power outage resulted in some lost business and frustrated employees, as lights, cash registers and computers blinked off and stayed off in some areas until 2:40 p.m.

Power was lost when a lightning arrestor failed at Dominion Virginia Power’s Union Camp Substation, located behind the International Paper plant, said Dominion spokesman Chuck Penn.

Jan. 19

FRANKLIN—A mix of freezing rain and cold temperatures wreaked havoc with commuters using Route 58 and nearby roads Thursday morning, contributing to 17 accidents between Courtland and Suffolk, alone.

Jerry Kee, assistant residency administrator for the Franklin Residency office of the Virginia Department of Transportation, said crews were dispatched from the Capron office by 6:30 a.m. to spread sand on area overpasses and bridges, but workers from the Franklin office left a bit later, finally getting all of the bridges sanded &uot;by 8:30 or 9 a.m.&uot;

Jan. 24

FRANKLIN—Bronco Federal Credit Union is anticipating the completion of an approximate 4,000-square-foot branch in Suffolk this spring.

Turn-Key Financial Builders of Charlotte, who have been general contractors for the downtown and the Stewart Drive offices, began work on the 3075 Godwin Blvd. soon after the August groundbreaking ceremony.

Feb. 2

More than 60 people showed up Wednesday to hear more about plans for a free health clinic that would serve western Tidewater.

The breakfast meeting at the Paul D. Camp Community College Regional Workforce Development Center drew dozens of people interested in finding out about how they can volunteer to help the effort, according to one of its organizers.

&uot;We were just so pleased there were so many people who were interested,&uot; said Virginia Savage, co-chairperson of the Western Tidewater Free Clinic Steering Committee.

&uot;The need is great,&uot; Savage said. &uot;We know there are about 20,000 uninsured people in western Tidewater.&uot;

Even some of their customers have yet to adjust to the change, but postal workers were back in their Main Street office on Jan. 31, settling back in to their newly renovated &uot;home.&uot;

Despite all the work that was done and the 16-week relocation they faced because of flooding in Franklin in October, there are still some files left to be organized, some equipment that needs to be tested and some furniture to be delivered.

Nonetheless, employees and customers seemed upbeat during the first full day in almost four months that the Franklin Post Office had been open at its normal location downtown.

&uot;This is — to us — heaven, compared to where we’ve been,&uot; said Renee Moore, officer in charge of the Franklin station. &uot;I never thought I would be saying it (about a work location), but we’re glad to be home.&uot;

Mail for post office boxes was transferred to the Main Street building on Friday from a temporary location in a warehouse on Commerce Park Drive, Moore said, and some customers even showed up with their keys to get their mail that afternoon.

Others have had a harder time with the adjustment.

Even some of their customers have yet to adjust to the change, but postal workers were back in their Main Street office on Jan. 31, settling back in to their newly renovated &uot;home.&uot;

Despite all the work that was done and the 16-week relocation they faced because of flooding in Franklin in October, there are still some files left to be organized, some equipment that needs to be tested and some furniture to be delivered.

Nonetheless, employees and customers seemed upbeat during the first full day in almost four months that the Franklin Post Office had been open at its normal location downtown.

&uot;This is — to us — heaven, compared to where we’ve been,&uot; said Renee Moore, officer in charge of the Franklin station. &uot;I never thought I would be saying it (about a work location), but we’re glad to be home.&uot;

Mail for post office boxes was transferred to the Main Street building on Friday from a temporary location in a warehouse on Commerce Park Drive, Moore said, and some customers even showed up with their keys to get their mail that afternoon.

Others have had a harder time with the adjustment.

Feb. 11

ISLE OF WIGHT — Seeking re-election as the county’s sheriff for what would be his sixth term, C.W. &uot;Charlie&uot; Phelps hopes to make his ability to manage change a centerpiece of his campaign.

Reflecting the growth of the community it serves, the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Department has doubled in size — from 18 to 36 deputies — during the nearly 20 years he has served in the office.

Since 1990, the latest census estimates show, Isle of Wight’s population has increased by one-third, with almost half of that growth taking place since the year 2000.

Based on the continued explosive growth he expects during the next five years, Phelps recently submitted a strategic plan to the board of supervisors that calls for an additional 16 deputies during that period.

Feb. 14

FRANKLIN — Sadler Auto Center is going after the fans.

Not only will Sadler Auto Center of Franklin be getting a new look and name, but current owner and President Hermie Sadler has been joined by his brother and NASCAR celebrity Elliott Sadler in ownership of the dealerships.

The dealerships will be renamed Elliott Sadler Ford Mercury, and Elliott Sadler Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

&uot;Everything else will stay the same,&uot; said Larry Parrish, general manager of the Franklin dealerships.

According to a company press release, Elliott is beginning his first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season as driver for Ray Evernham’s Dodge Dealers-UAW Dodge and thought the time was right to get involved in the vehicle business.

&uot;I think this is the perfect time to take this step,&uot; he said. &uot;I drive a car sponsored by the Dodge dealers, and there are many ways that my involvement in the dealerships will benefit me as well as our customers.

&uot;Our family has been in the automobile business over 40 years, and I am proud to be involved now.&uot;

Hermie, who works for Speed channel and Direct TV as a NASCAR television commentator on the weekends, has his office in Franklin and works at those dealerships during the week.

According to Parrish, Elliott’s presence at the Franklin dealerships will be limited.

Feb. 16

NORFOLK — The city of Norfolk will pay the widow of Officer Seneca Darden $600,000 to settle a claim resulting from his accidental death at the hands of a fellow Norfolk police officer, it was announced this week.

The settlement brings to a close the case that began last May, when Darden, a Courtland resident, was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow police officer while on duty.

The family is also entitled to other benefits that would bring the total compensation they will receive to more than $1 million, including insurance payments, retirement benefits and state and federal payments to families of law enforcement officers who die in the line of duty.

An investigation into Darden’s death revealed that a Norfolk K-9 officer who didn’t recognize him as a fellow policeman shot him six times in the chest, arm and sides.

Feb. 21

COURTLAND—High winds may have

contributed to a power failure Sunday for a large part of Southampton County.

According to Media Relations Manager Chuck Penn of Dominion Virginia Power, a felled tree landed on one of the utility’s circuits, knocking down a wire.

Feb. 23

COURTLAND—A program aimed at giving probationers incentive to avoid further criminal activity, while ensuring they make a worthwhile contribution to society through their probationary service, should soon begin to result in a cleaner Southampton County.

Members of the Board of Supervisors voted Monday morning to start an &uot;Assign-A-Highway&uot; program for non-violent criminals who are out of jail on probation.

Feb. 28

FRANKLIN—The Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce will honor the recipient of its 53rd annual Small Business of the Year award Thursday during its meeting at Cypress Cove Country Club.

Pace House Inn, owned Dan Hunt, along with several business partners, is a turn-of-the-century building on West Second Avenue in October 2003.

March 7

COURTLAND — Law enforcement officials of all stripes were on hand Friday night to bestow a well-deserved honor on one of their own.

Hundreds of police officers and prosecutors showed up at Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 56 in Courtland to celebrate the life of Robert A. Hill Sr., the state police officer who was killed in November while conducting a traffic stop in Southampton County.Trooper Hill had been president of the Lodge for two years before his death. Now, posthu-mously, he lends his name to the building that houses the fraternal organization that he helped build.

BOYKINS—A chilly, winter rain did nothing to dampen the warm, friendly spirit of all who gathered for a farewell reception for Dr. Cynthia Ripsin. More than 100 well-wishers came out to honor the doctor for her compassionate care and concern during her almost six-year tenure at Boykins Family Practice. The casual reception, decorat-ed with a medical theme, was catered by Phyllis and Brett Bunch, supplemented by other goodies provided by some of the guests. The Rev. Raymond Bunn emceed the brief ceremony that began with a resolution read by Mayor Spier Edwards Jr. designating Feb. 25 as &uot;Dr. Cindy Day.&uot;

In addition to the proclamation, he presented her with a Boykins lapel pin.

March 9

FRANKLIN — Two men were arrested in Franklin Monday, each with two counts of obtaining goods, or U.S. currency, by false pretense.

According to Detective Sgt. Kenneth Barham, after being alerted by a downtown business owner to possible illegal activity, Daniel Disanto, 34, of Schenectady, N.Y., and Stephen Ries, 37, of

Rensellaer, N.Y., were taken into custody at approximately 5:30 p.m. at Ballance Restoration and Carpet Cleaning on Second Avenue.

The two men had been employed with ACME Disaster Recovery Services prior to this recent trip to Franklin, but according to Operations Manager Tracy Boomhower, the employees no longer work for ACME. ACME teamed with Ballance after the October flooding in downtown, drying out buildings and removing contaminated material.

March 14

COURTLAND—The Southampton County Extension Service recognized the top producers in the two-ton peanut contest during its annual Farmer Appreciation Banquet last week.

Also honored was the Southampton County Peanut Champion, Sebrell farmer Ben Kitchen of Plank Road Farm.

&uot;Plank Road Farm harvested 77 acres and averaged 4,509 pounds per acre,&uot; said Extension Agent Wes Alexander, who conducted the program.

March 16

FRANKLIN—From sharecropper to NAACP chapter president, William Blue’s life has been marked by a determination to improve both his own life and the lives of others.

That life of service, in particular through the Franklin Branch of the NAACP, will be celebrated Saturday in a ceremony in Franklin, when members and friends gather to mark Blue’s retirement as president of the local civil rights group.

March 28

FRANKLIN—Jim Councill III noted that his father was a great role model for many young people, including himself.

His father, James Paul Councill Jr., who represented the 75th District in the Virginia House of Delegates for 32 years, died Sunday. He was 86. A funeral service was held at the Workforce Development Center. Interment followed with military honors in Poplar Spring Cemetery.

April 4

More than a thousand re-enactors were on hand last weekend at the Isle of Wight Heritage Park to commemorate the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Cold Harbor. Re-enactors came from all over the country to take part in the two-day event, hosted by Isle of Wight’s own 16th Virginia Cavalry Regiment, Company D. Thousands of spectators turned out to witness the re-enactment, to tour the encampments, to hear lectures and see demonstrations, and to purchase Civil War period items from sutlers, or vendors.

April 6

RICHMOND—Three new troopers are patrolling area roads following their graduation from the Virginia State Police Academy.

Two of the new troopers were assigned to Southampton County, and another was assigned to Smithfield after being among 40 graduated in the Academy’s 112th class.

Troopers Joseph W. Carr, 24, of Zuni and W. Keith Sasser, 32, of Emporia were assigned to duties in Southampton and Trooper James A Snyder Jr., 24, of Smithfield was given an Isle of Wight patrol.

April 8

Site preparation for the new Farm Fresh grocery store began Thursday on Armory Drive in Franklin. The crew of Mobley Construction Co. of Como,

N.C., was creating a construction entrance to the site while Allcore of Rocky Mount, N.C., cut curb and gutter for the entrance. According to Project Manager Billy Mobley, after the erosion and sediment control measures are in place, site grading will begin. &uot;We’ll be constructing the building pad and installing underground utilities,&uot; he said. &uot;By late next week, we’ll be doing the water, sewer and storm water work. Right now, everything is gelling. We’re where we want to be.&uot;

April 11

SUFFOLK—Members of the Independent Review Panel, a 14-member group charged with evaluating the Route 460 corridor improvements and other transportation plans, held a meeting at Suffolk’s city hall to hear a review of three proposals for the highway.

FRANKLIN—The book drop box at Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Library was the victim of an unfortunate hit and run between the day and night shifts.

While minding its own business, the book drop was knocked from its standard place on the curb.

&uot;It was totaled,&uot; Branch Manager Connie Henderson said.

With the weekend cold snap forecast, local Extension Service offices advised farmers to hold off on planting corn.

Southampton County Extension Agent Wes Alexander said about 80 percent of the corn in the county has been planted.

&uot;Extension recommended not planting at all last week,&uot; he said.

COURTLAND—Sedley native Amy Carr has announced her candidacy for commissioner of the revenue for Southampton County.

RICHMOND—Wildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries have compiled preliminary figures for bear, deer and turkey harvests for the 2006-07 fall seasons.

Overall, there were no surprises. Bear numbers continue to trend upward as the bear population continues to grow. Deer harvests are higher than the 10-year average but not record-setting. The fall turkey harvest is down, which is not surprising, officials said, given poor reproduction since 2001 due to a number of factors.

April 18

COURTLAND—More than 50 homes in Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park were identified as having &uot;illegal or otherwise fraudulent cable connections&uot; during a recent sweep of the community by law enforcement and cable TV company officials, police said.

As part of a new thrust designed to identify and reduce the number of illegal cable connections in Southampton County, search warrants have been sought against and served on the first group of residents police identified as suspects.

April 20

WAKEFIELD—Gray skies fit the general mood at the Wakefield Sportsmen’s Club. Even plates piled high with fish, cole slaw and beans couldn’t avert attendees’ attention from the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech this week.

The Wakefield Ruritans carried on a tradition with their 59th annual Shad Planking, a popular political gathering held on Brittle’s Mill Road.

This year, the stage was decorated in burgundy and orange in honor of Hokie families.

Her college career was just getting started. The possibilities were endless. Then, her life tragically ended before it could really begin.

Nicole White, 20, an International Studies major at Virginia Tech and a 2004 honor graduate from Smithfield High School, was one of the 33 people killed by Seung-Hui Cho, a fellow Tech student who went on a shooting rampage April 16.

&uot;I want to express my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to Nicole’s family and friends,&uot; said Dr. Michael McPherson, superintendent of Isle of Wight County Public Schools, in a press release. &uot;We are all deeply saddened by this event.&uot;

White was among the dead in Norris Hall.

According to a news report, the gunman was in the classroom at 9:50 a.m. on that day, and shots rang out for 90 seconds.

Her parents, Mike and Tricia White, drove to in Blacksburg. Pastor Timothy Piland and Youth Pastor Gary Vaughn from Nansemond River Baptist Church, where the family attended church, are with them offering comfort.

&uot;The Lord is obviously working in their lives, but they are grieving and need their privacy,&uot; was the prepared statement from the church.

Friends describe White as a hard worker and a good student. She was an honor graduate from SHS and an active member of the Beta Club. Rebecca Mercer, principal of SHS, remembered her fondly in a press release.

&uot;She was a good student, very friendly and open,&uot; said Mercer. &uot;She was always smiling.&uot; Counselors are available for students and staff at SHS who need help in dealing with the tragic event.

White held jobs at Luter YMCA and Gatling Pointe Yacht Club, both located in Smithfield. Linda Berling, Branch Executive Director from the Luter Family YMCA, said White had been a lifeguard, swim instructor and pool manager since 2004 and continued working during school vacations once she began college.

&uot;Nicole was a valued and dear member of our staff and all of us mourn her,&uot; said Berling. &uot;Our hearts go out to her family at this time. Our primary concern is for their comfort and support.&uot;

April 27

ISLE OF WIGHT—Before long, Isle of Wight County citizens will be able to see their government in action. Literally.

Last week, for the first time, the board of supervisors’ meeting was filmed and will be televised on Channel 8, the local cable network provided by Charter Communications.

COURTLAND—Police are searching for the assailant who shot and killed a man in his trailer at Southampton Meadows Mobile Home Park, according to Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Office.

Police were called to the 31000 block of George Street in the community at 11:55 p.m. Friday after a 911 operator received a breaking-and-entering call in which the caller said her boyfriend had been shot.

May 9

ISLE OF WIGHT—William E. Laine Jr. announced Tuesday that he will not be a candidate for another term as Isle of Wight Circuit Court Clerk. Laine was appointed Clerk Aug. 1, 1973, and was elected in a special election in November 1974, and in subsequent elections since.

May 16

FRANKLIN—An accident on westbound Route 58 at the Delaware Road overpass caused traffic to be rerouted for roughly 12 hours Friday evening into Saturday morning.

According to State Trooper Sgt. M.E . Elliott, the accident occurred at 7 p.m. about 200 to 300 feet east of the overpass.

May 20

COURTLAND—Nine months after the position was vacated, there is a new 4-H agent in the Southampton County Extension office.

Erika Bonnett, a West Virginia native who comes to Virginia through Texas, took over as the new 4-H and youth development agent in late April.

May 23

FRANKLIN—In conjunction with Business Appreciation Week, the Business Incubator celebrated its second anniversary Thursday with an open house and tour.

The business incubator, operated by Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., provides assistance to small non-retail businesses while entrepreneurs get their venture off the ground.

City and county officials, as well as the assistant director of the Virginia Department of Business Assistance, Lynda Sharp Anderson, and Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-District 75, attended the ceremony.

May 25

SUFFOLK—A new free health clinic will begin taking patients next month, following four eligibility clinics planned starting May 31.

The Western Tidewater Free Clinic, located at 3000 Godwin Blvd. in Suffolk, across from the old Lowe’s location on Route 10, will open for the first doctor-patient consultations June 14, a little more than two years after the Suffolk Partnership for Healthy Communities and the Western Tidewater Community Services Board first teamed up to address the need for low-income medical services in western Tidewater.

May 30

RANKLIN—Even if Congress takes no action to help Chowan watershed communities understand why their rivers have been so prone to overflowing in recent years, there are things that citizens and local governments can do to help protect themselves, participants in a regional meeting learned Tuesday.

About 45 people — representing state and local government agencies, area business and industry organizations, law enforcement, emergency services and private citizens — heard Tuesday morning that regardless of the final decision regarding a requested flood study by the Army Corps of Engineers, they should begin working to identify steps that could be taken locally or by the state to help mitigate the risk of flooding along the Blackwater, Meherrin and Nottoway rivers.

June 1

NEWSOMS—A 53-year-old man is recovering at home following an unprovoked attack by as many as five pit bull terriers.

The man was power-washing a property he owns on Thomaston Road in Newsoms when five of seven pit bulls owned by a neighbor came into the yard and attacked him, according to Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Department.

The victim was bitten in the neck, arm and leg.

June 13

Richard L. &uot;Rick&uot; Francis, a local attorney and former mayor of Boykins, won the Democrat primary Tuesday to be that party’s nominee for Southampton County Clerk of Court.

Francis received 1,266 votes, or 52 percent, among voters in Franklin and Southampton County, beating out fellow attorney H, Taylor Williams IV, who received 1,170 votes, or 42 percent.

Francis advances to the November general election.

June 15

ISLE OF WIGHT—Arguing that the General Assembly’s intransigence left them little choice in the matter, three out of five Isle of Wight County supervisors on Thursday voted in favor of creating a regional transportation authority with the right to levy a slate of new taxes and fees throughout much of of Hampton Roads.

June 20

FRANKLIN—The Franklin Police Department is expecting a shipment of six Tasers to arrive soon, devices that will help officers deal with potentially dangerous individuals with less lethal consequences.

NORFOLK—He may have been only 13 when he died, but Jackson Fox has left a legacy that will impact thousands of children for many years to come.

Four climbable bronze statues

were dedicated in Jackson’s name at the Virginia Zoo, with a crowd of 300 on hand to honor the memory of a boy whose love of animals will live on through a gift made possible by more than $50,000 in donations.

The 13-year-old Southampton Academy seventh-grader was killed in a November car accident, along with two other Boy Scouts and their assistant Scoutmaster, as they were returning home from a weekend camping trip.

June 27

NOTTOWAY GARDENS—A daylong manhunt concluded at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when police captured a man wanted in North Carolina on multiple felony charges.

After searching nearly seven hours in searing heat through cornfields, woods and swampy areas, police flushed out Sterling Devon Moore, capturing him on Delaware Road near the Nottoway Gardens subdivision.

COURTLAND—A Department of Transportation employee was seriously injured last week while cleaning up at the Southampton County Fairgrounds in preparation for a special event set to take place there today.

The woman, whom VDOT would not identify, got her arm caught in a wood chipper while clearing brush at the fairgrounds in advance of the Hampton Roads Division’s Diversity Fair.

July 6

COURTLAND—A new program during the school year may have contributed to a decrease in Southampton’s summer school students.

The 80 Southampton Middle School students in summer school represent a 36-percent drop in those numbers from last year, according to school officials. They attribute that improvement in part to an after-school program that gave at-risk students extra help with reading and math each week.

The hours and days are the same as those for summer school at SMS, but the difference is that the students participating in the 21st Century Community Learning Center program have been invited to attend and can choose to decline the invitation.

SEDLEY— The annual Fourth of July veterans memorial service sponsored by the GFWC Sedley Woman’s Club had special significance this year.

Four Sedley servicemen who lost their lives during wartime were honored for bravery by the families of two long-time Sedley residents. Margaret Simms and E. B. Gale, their children and grandchildren, honored the four with a monetary donation and each of the slain men with an engraved plaque, which will be displayed in the Sedley Firehouse.

The memorial dedication was made during the hour-long service at the Sedley Baptist Church, at which more than 100 veterans and their families attended. Simms’ son, Richard, spoke on behalf of his group.

July 8

SMITHFIELD—An Isle of Wight County teacher recently received the prestigious Apperson Award for 2007, the highest award given in the eastern part of the country for college counseling.

Elizabeth W. Delk, with more than 25 years in the field, was honored for her work at the Potomac and Chesapeake Association of College Admission Counseling annual conference in April.

&uot;I couldn’t have been more surprised,&uot; she said last week.

&uot;This is an award I never expected.&uot;

The Apperson Award has been in existence for 35 years and is given to the counselor whose career in college counseling best exemplifies the exemplary standards of the profession. It is awarded to counselors who work at either a high school or in college admissions for lifetime work.

July 11

FRANKLIN—An organization geared to children is meeting in a new place this summer, due to the generosity of the Franklin Sportsman’s Association.

Members of the Franklin Unit of the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Virginia, who meet at S.P. Morton Elementary School during the school year, didn’t know where they were going to meet for the summer up until a month before school ended.

Anthony King, who serves on the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin Unit Board and is a Sportsman’s Association member, thought something could be done about the situation.

&uot;I brought the idea back to the group and the membership discussed it,&uot; said King. &uot;We voted overwhelmingly to donate the building for the summer program.&uot;

IVOR— If it’s true the number seven is lucky, then the Rev. Steve Gupton is way ahead of the game.

The 37-year-old Gupton, who just completed seven years as pastor of Ivor Baptist Church, was given a Pastor Appreciation Day reception on 7/7/07, in the church fellowship hall.

It is estimated 75 people, IBC members, family and friends attended.

&uot;It has been a privilege to have served Ivor Baptist Church for the past seven years,&uot; Gupton said.

&uot;I have been blessed with a wonderful community to pursue my calling to the pastoral ministry.

&uot;My years here have been some of the best of my life,&uot; he added.

&uot;The people are loving, kind and generous.

What more could a Christian minister ask?&uot;

July 13

HUNTERDALE—The Franklin-Southampton County Fair already has its first winner.

Though the fair won’t get under way until Aug. 8, members of the board have selected the artwork that dons the Premium Book cover. The book is an annual publication that lists information about the contests forms held throughout the fair and pre-registration forms.

Maggie Phillips, 17, an upcoming senior at Southampton High School, entered the contest through Ruth Glascock’s art class at school. Her drawing was chosen from about 70 entries.

July 15

COURTLAND—It wasn’t even on the agenda. The news about it had broken just two days earlier. But the possibility of Southampton hosting an auxiliary landing field for Navy fighter planes dominated discussion at the Planning Commission’s meeting Thursday.

Judging by the commissioners’ comments, the topic is on the lips of people all over the county.

&uot;I’ve been out of the county all day, and in one hour back in the county, I spent 45 minutes talking to people about it,&uot; said J. Michael Mann.

&uot;I’ve had a lot of phone calls today,&uot; Michael G. Drake concurred. &uot;People are very concerned. It’s going to be a big issue.&uot;

BOYKINS—Four months after the town threw a farewell party for its beloved Dr. Cindy Ripsin, Boykins finally has a doctor again.

Dr. Francis Taylor has bought the building and the Boykins Family Practice name, has re-hired the staff that left the business during its brief ownership by Urgent Care Centers Inc. and has begun repairing relationships with patients.

Taylor has a medical office in Conway, N.C., where he had begun seeing former Boykins Family Practice patients in recent months.

July 18

FRANKLIN—The Nottoway River in Southampton County remained closed following a 2,200-gallon chemical spill at Hercules Inc.

Two different chemicals were released into the river, prompting a response by local and state emergency teams, as well as a private clean-up operation. Public access to the river was closed, and residents have been advised not to swim, wade or fish in the river and not to consume fish caught there until further notice.

Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Department, which heads up the local emergency response team, said the closure was &uot;a precautionary measure only.&uot;

July 20

FRANKLIN—Recent scattered thunderstorms may have been a case of too little, too late for many area farmers. And the short-term forecast offers little hope of improvement.

In a year when expectations of higher prices for harvested corn prompted Southampton farmers to plant twice as much as they did last year, an unusually hot and dry growing season is expected to result in a terrible harvest.

In fact, though area corn acreage doubled this year, the expected 50-percent yields will mean farmers bring in about the same amount as they did last year, Extension Agent Wes Alexander said. Higher prices should help offset the extra costs they incurred from planting extra acres.

July 22

COURTLAND—Southampton supervisors are hoping a change of venue for the public meeting will give county residents a better opportunity to hear a presentation regarding the county’s inclusion on a list of potential sites for a new outlying landing field.

The meeting — set for at Southampton High School — has also attracted powerful political interests at both the state and federal levels. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb’s office released a statement explaining that the senator believes citizen participation to be an important part of the process of choosing a new place for Navy pilots to practice their touch-and-go landings.

July 25

COURTLAND—An illegal alien pleaded guilty to the May 2006 rape, robbery and murder of a woman who was working as a cook for a group of men in a trailer at Southampton Meadows trailer park.

Bernardino Munguia &uot;Queenie&uot; Tolentino will serve the rest of his life in prison as a result of the plea agreement, which spared him the possibility of the death penalty for the capital offenses.

COURTLAND—If Southampton wants to be removed from a list of potential Virginia sites for a new practice landing facility for Navy jets, all it has to do is ask.

Virginia officials assured county residents and supervisors that the state has no interest in &uot;push(ing) any community into the arms of the Navy.&uot;

&uot;The governor is not going to compel uninterested communities into negotiations with the Navy,&uot; said Robert P. Crouch Jr., assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness.

Crouch and his deputy, Steven Mondul, spoke to the Board of Supervisors and more than 500 interested citizens in the auditorium at Southampton High School.

They answered some questions and told supervisors the county has the next move as the Navy continues to evaluate potential locations for the touch-and-go airfield in Virginia and North Carolina.

Judging from applause, as well as an unofficial and unscientific poll completed on the site, members of the audience were overwhelmingly opposed to Southampton being considered for the airfield.

The board declined to vote on the matter at the hearing, however, opting instead to try to get more information.

July 29

FRANKLIN—A group of citizens concerned about a proposed rate hike from the city have been working with the city’s managers and financial officers for about a year to develop a financial plan to keep energy costs low.

The group of four businessmen made a presentation to the city council at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting to examine ways to keep the city as the primary provider of electricity and maintain and protect its steady stream of revenues raised by providing that electricity.

Franklin buys electricity from Virginia Power, then sells it to customers, sometimes at a reduced rate.

COURTLAND—A Nottoway River boat ramp on property adjacent to Hercules Inc. has been reopened following a report from an Atlanta environmental lab that showed chemical levels in the river to be &uot;within acceptable limits.&uot;

Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Office, said the barricades that had been placed at the head of the boat ramp would be removed, and advisory restrictions had been lifted.

Aug. 1

VIRGINIA BEACH—Widespread opposition to potential Virginia and North Carolina practice landing sites for its fighter jets would likely lead the Navy to redouble its efforts to locate an outlying landing field in Washington County, N.C.

The Navy would rather fight for its original site in court than force another unwilling community to host the landing strip, according to Rear Adm.David Anderson of the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command.

Anderson and Capt. Patrick J. Lorge, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Oceana, played host to representatives from Southampton, Sussex and Nottoway counties and the Town of Blackstone in an event organized by U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (VA-04).

COURTLAND—A 474-acre property between Delaware Road and Rose Valley Road will become the county’s next industrial park, following its purchase for $1.8 million by the Industrial Development Authority.

When infrastructure improvements are complete, perhaps as soon as 18 months, it will be the largest industrial site in Southampton, according to County Administrator Michael Johnson.

The Authority purchased the property last month from a family estate, using a portion of $11 million worth of bonds that were sold by the county for the purpose of buying and developing the property.

Aug. 3

COURTLAND—Southampton sites that are being considered for an outlying landing field for the Navy will not be taken off the table immediately, despite the county’s opposition to the proposal.

Robert P. Crouch Jr., assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness, said that &uot;rather than give piecemeal comments&uot; to the Navy, his office will relay all the information it has gathered about the 10 proposed landing field sites at one time, nearer the Sept. 15 deadline the Navy has imposed on the process.

COURTLAND—For Lynda Updike and many of the nearly 300 citizens in a sweltering building at the Southampton County Fairgrounds, the fight has just begun.

Despite the fact the Board of Supervisors voted earlier in the day to ask that four Southampton sites be withdrawn from a list of potential locations for an auxiliary airstrip to be used for Navy pilot training, Updike and others vowed not to stop fighting.

&uot;We’ve got to keep on keeping on until we see that no site in Southampton County is on that list,&uot; she said, noting that &uot;organization and solidarity are the keys.&uot;

Aug. 5

FRANKLIN—The governor’s office refused to formally commit to removing Southampton County sites from a list of proposed locations for a practice landing strip for Navy jet pilots.

Referring to Robert P. Crouch Jr. as Gov. Tim Kaine’s &uot;point man&uot; on the OLF site-selection process, Kaine Press Secretary Kevin Hall declined to answer questions or provide a statement from the governor regarding Southampton’s repudiation of a proposal to locate an outlying landing field in the county.

&uot;When you speak to Bob Crouch, you ARE speaking to the governor’s office,&uot; Hall wrote in an e-mail response to a phone message.

&uot;Our process, from the commonwealth’s perspective, will be to continue to gather information,&uot; he said.

Aug. 8

FRANKLIN—A 21-year-old man who moved to Franklin with his mother and sister in November was shot and killed at the intersection of Delk Street and Mariner Street.

Harley Bethea, of the 1200 block of Mariner Street, was about four doors from home, returning from visiting a friend, when he was shot in the chest, according to Lt. T.W. Whitt of the Franklin Police Department.

&uot;We believe he got in the crossfire of something else,&uot; said Whitt, who described Bethea as &uot;a victim of some senseless violence.&uot;

There was no reason to believe Bethea was the intended target.

&uot;From all accounts and everything I’ve been told, he was a pretty good guy,&uot; he said.

Aug. 10

IVOR—A Navy helicopter was forced to land in a soybean field about 3.5 miles outside of Ivor on Proctor’s Bridge Road.

The pilot, Lt. West Whetstone, said a warning light on the control panel signaled a malfunction. In such a case, the pilot is instructed to land immediately.

A second helicopter was summoned from Norfolk and arrived within the hour with materials to make repairs and the downed plane was back in the air within 10 minutes after the second copter arrived.

Aug. 15

RANKLIN—Verta Jackson was appointed by Franklin City Council Monday night to fill the Ward 5 seat on the School Board.

Jackson, nominated on behalf of some Ward 5 citizens by Clarence Baker, will be filling the seat after Shauna Moses’ term expired June 30. Moses, who served six years over three terms, was asked to continue serving until the vacancy was filled.

Aug. 19

FRANKLIN—It became official. Nobody wants an outlying landing field.

A vote by the Sussex County Board of Supervisors made that county the last of five Virginia municipalities to take an official stand against a Navy practice airfield.

After accounting for factors such as population density and current and future land uses, Virginia officials settled on potential sites in Sussex, Southampton, Surry, Greensville and King and Queen counties, presenting the list to the Navy in July.

Aug. 22

COURTLAND—The Relay All Stars shone bright this year, raising close to $121,244 with donations still incoming.

Members representing 19 Franklin/Southampton Relay for Life teams, caregivers, survivors and guests gathered for the 13th annual culminating event of the season at the fairgrounds on Saturday, with activities centered around the theme, &uot;Relay All Stars.&uot;

Aug. 26

COURTLAND—Southampton could join a growing list of Virginia counties seeking designation as disaster areas as a result of drought and unusually high temperatures this summer.

The county’s Board of Supervisors will decide Monday whether to ask for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s help in having Southampton declared a primary disaster area. Isle of Wight’s governing board took a similar action during its Aug. 16 meeting.

The Southampton County Review Committee estimates losses of more than $14.5 million this year, due to drought and excessive heat, according to an assessment completed last week.

Sept. 12

COURTLAND—A Southampton man is in police custody after a two-hour manhunt resulted in his capture just a few yards from the house where sheriff’s deputies had tried to serve him with a Sussex arrest warrant.

Robert L. Myrick Sr. was arrested in the back yard of the St. Luke’s Church Road home whose back door he was accused of leaving as a deputy stood out front to serve a warrant on a probation violation.

Six to eight Southampton deputy sheriffs participated in the search, along with two search dogs and their handlers from the Suffolk Police Department and the Virginia State Police, according to Richard Morris, spokesman for the Southampton Sheriff’s Office. Myrick had been on probation on felony habitual offender charges from Sussex County.

Oct. 3

COURTLAND—A designation by the U.S. Department of Education marks Meherrin Elementary School in Newsoms as one of the nation’s most improved schools.

One of just 287 schools across the country named as 2007 No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools, Meherrin will be honored during a special Washington, D.C., awards ceremony.

&uot;I’m just elated,&uot; said Southampton School Superintendent Charles Turner.

Ten Virginia schools, including three private and seven public elementary schools, were chosen for the national honor.

Oct. 5

FRANKLIN—Congress will not fund a Chowan River Basin flood study until at least the 2008-2009 budget cycle, local officials say.

A congressional resolution supporting the Corps of Engineers study was too late for the 2008 budget, which went into effect Oct. 1.

Oct. 7

FRANKLIN—With a tidal wave of opposition forming in northeastern North Carolina in response to a proposed auxiliary landing field for Navy jet fighters, Southampton supervisors have reiterated their own position on the matter.

The county wants no part of an Outlying Landing Field at any price.

An Oct. 1 letter to Gov. Timothy M. Kaine was blunt in communicating the Board of Supervisors’ assessment of a proposal the Navy is considering that offers four locations in Southampton as potential sites for a new landing strip where pilots of F/A-18 Super Hornets could practice carrier landings.

Oct. 12

FRANKLIN—Some 90 employees at ATC Panels working at the company’s particleboard production mill were laid off in what company officials are calling a result of declining market conditions. That represents approximately two-thirds of the workforce at the mill, according to a press release.

Oct. 12

FRANKLIN—From a top spot on a legendary area high school football team to one of seven seats on Virginia’s highest court, it would have been easy for S. Bernard Goodwyn to leave behind his Boykins roots.

Instead, he humbly thanks the people of Southampton County for their support and for their help in getting him off to a good start.

&uot;I really think I got an excellent foundation in Southampton County,&uot; he said. &uot;Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about or use something that I learned in Southampton County.&uot;

The foundation that was built in a Deloatche Avenue home in Boykins, in a Branchville church and on a Courtland football field proved strong enough to support Goodwyn’s rise to the top of the legal profession in Virginia — Governor Timothy M. Kaine named him to a vacant seat on the Virginia Supreme Court.

The occasion gave friends and family a chance to speak well of a man whom they described as unlikely to do so for himself.

&uot;He’s so deserving. He’s always been just a fine young man, from the first time I ever knew him,&uot; said Southampton Circuit Court Clerk Wayne Cosby, who was head coach for the Southampton High School Indians when the team won the 1978 state championship.



FRANKLIN— David Merrick, Downtown Franklin Association director, has resigned after nearly one year in the position, according to an executive board member.

Merrick’s resignation came days after the end of the Franklin Fall Festival, an annual event that draws hundreds to activities on the downtown streets.

Merrick was the fifth director, filling a position that had been vacant since May 2006.



FRANKLIN—Drought conditions in Southampton have reached extreme levels and show no signs of abating, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

During the month of October, the intensity of the drought in Southampton and much of Isle of Wight has moved from &uot;severe&uot; to &uot;extreme,&uot; the second-worst level on a five-step scale that runs from &uot;abnormally dry&uot; on the low end to &uot;exceptional&uot; on the high end.

Nov. 2

FRANKLIN—City resident Jennifer Bernocco feels she is qualified to serve on the city council’s newly formed Historic Preservation Commission. At one point, the city council thought so, too, as she was appointed to serve in July along with six other members. The council

was unanimous.

Bernocco, founder and president of the Franklin Historic District Neighborhood Association, was then removed from the commission at the next council meeting. She said she was neither notified that she was appointed or taken off of the commission.

Bernocco feels that the reason she was eliminated was because of a letter that she wrote about the city that was printed Aug. 12 in The Tidewater News.

Nov. 7

NEWSOMS—A man is dead following an industrial accident at a peanut warehousing operation on Route 671 north of Newsoms, according to the Southampton County Sheriff’s Department.

Detective Cpl. Richard Morris, a spokesman for the department, said the man was reported missing and possibly trapped inside a peanut warehouse building owned by Severn Peanut Co.

Members of the Newsoms Fire Department, Boykins Rescue Squad and Franklin Fire and Rescue joined sheriff’s deputies at the scene to search for the man, whom police would not immediately identify, pending family notification.

Richard &uot;Rick&uot; Francis and Sharon Nelms Jones became new clerks of the circuit courts in their respective counties for the first time in a generation.

Francis defeated Olivia Bryant Claud in Southampton County, 3,126 votes to 2,336 in early returns. About 34 percent of Southampton voters turned out to vote in the General Election.

Nov. 14

COURTLAND—A former third-grade math teacher and Teacher of the Year at Meherrin Elementary School was found guilty Tuesday of four misdemeanor charges in connection with a September wreck that claimed the life of her six-year-old son.

A substitute judge in Southampton’s General District Court pronounced Rebecca Duncan Whitehurst guilty of driving under the influence, possessing marijuana, failing to properly secure her son in his seat and failing to wear a seatbelt.

The judge also certified felony charges of manslaughter and child neglect to the county’s grand jury.

Nov. 18

William Edward Saunders, pastor of the New Life Church in Camptown was killed in a single-car crash in Prince George County at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Saunders, 61, was headed south on Route 35, when his 1999 Mercedes ran off the right side of the road, traveled a short distance and slammed into a tree. He was ejected from the car and declared dead at the scene.

Nov. 28

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors have joined the chorus of Hampton Roads officials who want to make all restaurants smoke-free.

Responding to a request from city council members in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, members of the board were quick and decisive in their support of a proposed ban on smoking in restaurants.

Dec. 9

COURTLAND—Some members of the Board of Supervisors would like to see a broader drug testing policy for county employees, including those who work for the school system.

Southampton’s board members expressed dismay when they learned that random drug tests are limited to school and county employees who hold commercial driver’s licenses.

Dec. 12

Mike and Harsha Desai, current owners of the Comfort Inn and the Courtland Inn, are scheduled to have an initial site plan for the prospective Holiday Inn Express they hope to build.

The proposed location is on a 1.85-acre lot to the south of the Arby’s/Exxon location. The grass lot in front of Wal-Mart has been divided for the hotel and an outparcel that will be developed at a later date.

Dec. 14

FRANKLIN—Sean Dardeau, chief executive officer at Southampton Memorial Hospital since 2004, is being transferred to be chief operating officer at a larger hospital within the same organization.

The move takes Dardeau, 38, back to Alabama, from which he was transferred to Southampton Memorial three years ago.